God’s Thoughts Should be Our Thoughts: Truth is Revealed and Knowable
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Christians often cite these verses as meaning that God’s thoughts and ways are so transcendent and inscrutable, we cannot know them. This is, we are told, a reason for comfort for the Christian, especially when circumstances around us are confusing and painful. Some even use these verses to defend a kind of Christian anti-intellectualism. After all, if God is unknowable, why study theology at all? When having a “childlike” faith is confused with a purely emotive faith, there’s no sense in stewarding our minds to the knowledge and worship of God. Unfortunately, this way of approaching God has further devolved into the idea that if God is unknowable, we can’t really know His moral will when it comes especially to certain behaviors and lifestyles.
Of course, it is true that God is omniscient, and we are not. He not only knows vastly more than we can imagine or comprehend, He is the source of all knowledge. Because there is so much He has not revealed, there is no sense in which humans could ever know God exhaustively. All of which is why my friend Greg Koukl often says that Christians should never read a Bible verse. What he means is that Christians should never read only one verse by itself.
In the context of the verses before and after, Isaiah 55:8-9 does not suggest that we cannot know God’s thoughts and ways. In fact, Isaiah is saying the exact opposite.
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Run to Jesus: Living in a Time of Great LossBy R. Scott Clark — 11 months ago
Written by R. Scott Clark |
Friday, April 29, 2022
If you are in Christ, i.e., united to him by the Spirit through faith alone, your name is in the Lamb’s book of life and eternal fellowship shall be yours. Respect death. Mortify your sins. Grieve and mourn the loss of life but rest in the promise that the end belongs to him, who walked in the garden with our first parents, in whose image we are being re-created.
Americans born after World War II, for most of that time, have experienced prosperity and medical progress hitherto unknown in human history. We have been led to expect that, given enough resources, medical science can conquer virtually anything. In an undated story (why do publishers do that?) Becky Little highlights four diseases about which we have largely forgotten because of vaccines: Smallpox, Polio, Rabies, and the Flu. To be sure, people do still die from the flu but, until Covid-19 we have not faced anything like the Spanish Flu, which killed approximately 675,000 people in the USA and 50 million people globally.
To date the CDC reports 463, 659 deaths in the USA and 2.3 million deaths globally from Covid-19. Though the number of deaths in the USA might be beginning to approach the total number of deaths from the 1918 flu, globally the 1918 outbreak was much more deadly. Be that as it may, when we add to the effects of Covid-19 the aging of the American population, we are living through a time of great loss. Psychologically, this sense of loss is intensified by social media and changes in the way the news is reported.
We grieve these reports of death and these losses, as we should, because death is not normal.
The media generates revenue by clicks, and so they report (market would be a more accurate verb) news from outside their local area with with headlines designed to get the reader to click, if not to read. The old newsroom maxim, “if it bleeds, it leads” was never so true. The media have embraced death and destruction as part of their business model so we are bombarded with reports of deaths from our own town and from places across the globe. Then there is social media, on which friends and acquaintances seem continuously to be reporting death and loss.
We grieve these reports and these losses, as we should, because death is not normal—at least it was not supposed to be. We were not created to die. We were created for endless fellowship with God. He put us a paradise, a garden, a temple. We were created in righteousness and true holiness. We were endowed with all needed to obey and to enter into blessedness. The Lord even instituted a sacrament of life, the tree of life, and a sacrament of death, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:15–17). We were authorized to eat from the one and forbidden from the other.
Our first parents had fellowship with God even before the consummate state, which loomed before them. Their week was organized around the weekly Sabbath—remember this is before the fall and who knows how many years before the institution of the old (Mosaic) covenant (Gen. 2:2–3; Exod. 20:8). The Sabbath was a picture of future blessedness and fellowship with God and with one another (Heb. 4:9).
The marvels of modernity have given us the illusion that we can, through will and technology, conquer the consequences of sin—but it is just an illusion.
Spoiler alert: We did not obey God. At one point in our life in God’s paradise-temple we freely chose death and God kept his promise (Gen. 3:6–7). Death entered the world (Gen. 2:17; 3:19). We began to die and promised misery began to manifest itself everywhere, from food production to childbirth (e.g., Gen. 4:8). There has been man-made attempts to overcome finitude and the fall (e.g., Gen. 11:1–9), but those ended badly too. Eventually life became so horrible that the Lord, as it were, started it over. He destroyed “the world that then was” (2 Pet. 3:6).
Serving from the ShadowsBy Nicholas T. Batzig — 11 months ago
Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
On Judgment Day, our popularity or public accolades will not matter one iota. Rather, what will matter is how faithfully and diligently we sought to use the gifts God has given us for His glory and the edification of His people.
We have all been conditioned by the celebrity culture in which we live to fall into the trap of believing that truly great Christian ministry should be placarded on a platform and subject to public accolade. This is one reason why so many have given their praises to celebrity pastors in America over the past fifty years. However, it is a yet more subtle evil in our hearts. We can almost unconsciously convince ourselves, “If God has given me gifts for ministry, then others should broadly recognize the gifts God had given me.” This phenomenon is not unique to modern American culture. It dwells deep in the hearts of men and women by nature. We all sinfully love attention and admiration. There is, therefore, a great danger for pastors and congregants alike to turn ministry into a show in order to receive praise from men.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned His disciples about allowing their ambition to drive them to seek the praise of men. He said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:1). Regarding our Lord’s teaching, John Calvin noted,
“In all virtues the entrance of ambition is to be dreaded, and there is no work so laudable, as not to be in many instances corrupted and polluted by it. . . there is no room to doubt, that the design is, to correct the disease of ambition, when, in doing what is right, we seek glory from men.”1
Seeking the praise of men is an equal opportunity evil. The longing to be recognized and praised in ministry is not only a danger for those who compromise God’s truth in their zeal to accommodate culture. It is far too easy for theological conservatives to raise this criticism about those engaged in virtue signaling on trending social issues. It is much more difficult for all of us to examine ourselves to discover whether or not we have fallen into the same snare of seeking praise from men. We can easily seek the praise and admiration of others for taking a stand for biblical truth in the face of moral deterioration in the society around us. After all, anyone can play to a fan base in the way in which they platform their stance on matters of theological and ethical truth.
This brings us to ask the question, “What is truly great ministry before God?” More often than not, great ministry in a local church is never celebrated or platformed; it is revealed in time spent in God’s word, counseling, and in prayer with the members when they are wandering, sick, hurting, or just carrying on in ordinary tasks of their lives. It is manifest in many unseen acts of service. It is carried out when a man or woman seeks to use the gifts God has given us for the building up on the members of the body of Christ. It is in everyone doing their part and being willing to serve from the shadows.
What’s The Point Of Family Devotions?By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
Slowly but deliberately drip the truth into our children’s minds and hearts. By reading and re-reading the Bible together, we have introduced them to its primary themes, its main characters, and its central truths. By explaining the Bible as we go, I’ve been able to teach them how to personally apply the Bible’s truths. We aren’t just reading history or poetry together, but hearing divine truths that are meant to change the way we think and the way we live.
We don’t have little kids around here anymore. In fact, most of the time we now just have one kid around here, and she’s well beyond the little years. We’ve moved past parenting tiny children and into parenting young adults. Toilet training, bike-riding, and grade school drama have given way to navigating graduate programs, assessing romantic relationships, and even planning wedding ceremonies. Our family life has changed dramatically.
But one habit that has stuck is the habit of family devotions. Whenever two or more of us are under this roof, we stumble down to the living room first thing in the morning to read and to pray together. It’s a habit we developed when the kids were tiny, and it’s one that has endured through all the years, through all the change.
I was recently challenged with this question: What’s the point of family devotions? Though the question was asked in the abstract, I thought about it through the lens of my own experience. While I can’t speak to how it may function in someone else’s home, I can tell about the purpose it has served in ours. And maybe in its own way, that will prove helpful to someone.
Before I do that, though, I ought to be honest about a few things. We have never really attempted to do family devotions more than five days a week, so it’s not an every day habit. Sometimes when routines are disrupted we’ve neglected it for weeks at a time. The kids have often been far less than enthusiastic about participating (and sometimes the parents haven’t been a whole lot better). And we’ve rarely been successful at making devotions much more than simply reading and praying together. We have pretty much stuck with a simple formula of dad reading a passage, dad explaining that passage for a minute or two, then dad praying for the family. We’ve kept it consistent and consistently simple. So if I’ve got any authority or expertise to offer, it’s the kind that’s related to experience—to having done this thing many thousands of times.
So what’s the point of family devotions? I wonder if it would be helpful to first consider the purpose it hasn’t served in my family. Family devotions has not been a means through which we have obeyed a specific law or fulfilled an explicit command. There is no commandment in either the Old Testament or the New that tells Christian families they must spend time reading and praying together each day.