For my thoughts are not your thoughts, saith the Lord
Robert C. Oliver Contributing columnist
It was the prophet Isaiah who penned, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thought than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). One fact stands out, just because someone thinks something to be right, does not make it so. One can go through the Bible and see numerous times when someone thought something, only to find out later that they were wrong. Judah thought Tamar was a harlot (Genesis 38:15), but he was wrong. She was his daughter in law. Jacob thought that he would never see his beloved son Joseph alive again, but he was wrong (Genesis 48:11). Haman thought that king Ahasuerus desired to honor him, but he was wrong, it was Mordecai whom he hated that the king desired to honor (Esther 6). When Judas slipped out to betray Jesus, the other disciples thought that Jesus had sent him on some errand, but they were wrong (John 13:29). Saul of Tarsus thought that he ought to do things contrary to the name of Jesus, but of course, he was wrong (Acts 26:9). On and on the list could go, but obviously, what man thinks is not always right. Solomon the wise said, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). With such a thought at hand, we could write an almost endless article about what men have and do think that was or is wrong, for most anything you could dream up, some man at some time has espoused it. But, let us note just a few examples.
Many are those who think that truth is subjective rather than objective. Many college text books teach this to be true. Those who believe that truth is subjective affirm that there is no absolute right or wrong, and that what is truth for them may not be what is truth for you. It is interesting that those who believe this, only apply it when considering things religious. The words written on the prescription from the doctor, though it may look like chicken scratch to us, we want the pharmacist to fill that prescription with just exactly what the doctor intended, and those words mean the same thing at every pharmacy. The truth in the realm of religion is no different. Just consider the New Testament to be the prescription that the great Physician has written. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
Akin to the truth is subjective thinking is that of those who say, “we can’t all understand the Bible alike”. The fact of the matter is, unless we think alike concerning this issue, at least one of us does not understand the Bible. We could both be wrong, but we cannot both be right if we understand it. Concerning whether we can understand it or not, Paul wrote, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (I Corinthians 14:20). It appears that the apostle Paul thought you could understand it.
Heard quite often is the statement, “I think one church is as good as another”. While being brief in revealing the problem with this line of thinking, let us consider just a couple of truths about this. First, Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18). Not all churches were built by Jesus, just the one that He built. Many of the denominations were started some fifteen hundred years after the Lord built His. Certainly one does not “think” that a church some man or group of men established is as good at the Lord’s. Secondly, Jesus is the head of His church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). Since Jesus is the head of His church, certainly a church over which Jesus is not the head cannot be as good as the one over the which He is the head.
Many think that one can worship any way they like, so long as they are worshipping sincerely. However, the fact is that God has given instructions in every age concerning how those who would serve Him should worship. In this New Testament age, Jesus told the woman at the well, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). Indeed, sincerity is a must when worshipping God. That’s the “in spirit” part of that statement by Jesus. But, the other part is “in truth”. Recall God’s word is truth (John 17:17), thus our worship must be in harmony with the commands of God’s word. Since worship is for God, it is God that it needs to be pleasing too, not us.
One last example of man’s thinking concerns the Lord and His kingdom. Many think that when the Lord comes again, He will set up His kingdom on earth. However, Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). He also said that the kingdom would come during the life of some He spoke to (Mark 9:1). And, in addition to that, the apostle Paul says that when the end comes, He will turn the kingdom over to the Father, not build it (I Corinthians 15:24).
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