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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Look Where You're Going

When I took driver's training way back when (the part where you get trained in the car), my instructor pointed out something important. "See that row of cars parked along the side of the road? Don't watch those. Watch where you are going." "Why is that?" I asked. "Because," he answered, "you will always go in the direction you are looking." Wisdom for all of life.

We humans have a tendency to look at ourselves in our attempt to understand God. We start with what we know about us and then project it onto God. It was God's accusation, in fact. To the wicked He said, "You thought that I was just like you." (Psa 50:21) Instead, He says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa 55:8-9) But we start with us and move to God. We're not looking where we're going. We're looking at us. And, as it turns out we think we're headed toward God, but we end up ... with us.

If you look, nearly every major doctrine of Scripture is a problem. Start with Scripture -- who wrote it? Well, men did, of course. Oh, wait, it is God-breathed. So God did. But, no, it was written by men. All of it is in their words. But God superintended their words. A paradox. Not something we would think up, but certainly something God did (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Then step into the Trinity. Ooo, that's a good one. Is God one? Yes, absolutely! But the Bible teaches three. Yes, absolutely! So there is one God and one person, right? No. One God, three persons. Here's an easy one. Jesus ... was He fully God or fully Man? Yes! That's the only right answer -- yes. Despite the human reasoning that assures us that He cannot be both 100% God and 100% Man. Oh, here's an easy one. Whose blood saves us? Well, of course it's Christ's blood (Eph 2:13). Except that Paul says it's God's blood (Rom 3:25). Both and. Or how about Satan? He is the god of this world, right? Yes. So God is constantly being suppressed by Satan, right? Well, no. As it turns out, Satan can only do what God permits him to do (Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-6; Luke 22:31). So Satan is god of this world, but under God's jurisdiction. Thus, when the author of Chronicles says that Satan tempted David to number Israel (1 Chron 21:1) and the author of Samuel says that the Lord did it (2 Sam 24:1), they're both correct. You see, every major doctrine seems to end up here somehow. So, if we're going to base our doctrines on human reasoning, we're going to have to ... eliminate all these doctrines.

The problem is that, while we do indeed have mind, will, and emotion, we have a problem. Our minds, wills, and emotions are fallen. Their damaged, bruised, broken. Here, consider the will for a moment. We think that we have Free Will, by which we mean autonomy, absolute liberty to choose whatever we wish without coercion or influence, internal or external. If it isn't that, it isn't free will. (I didn't change the capitalization by accident.) So, we know we have Free Will, so any doctrine of God must acquiesce to that perceived fact. Oddly enough, the Bible tells us that Satan has to get permission from God to act and the Bible even teaches that God prevents sin (Gen 20:6), and yet we've now inflated our Free Will to be higher than Satan's and, in the end, even than God's. We're looking in the wrong direction.

The claim from many is that we determine truth by our reasoning. There is something to be said for that, but not everything. If we use our own reasoning as the primary factor to determine truth, we will be looking in the wrong direction and, inevitably, head in the wrong direction. But if we accept God's Word as truth, both about His revealed nature and the truth of doctrine, then subjecting our reason to the Word of God would lead us away from Man as center and toward God. Now, to be sure, this isn't easy or even comfortable. We're asked to accept that God is merciful and just, good and condemning people to Hell, loving and hating. He is Sovereign and gives us the freedom to make choices. That is, we don't start with human reason, human will, or human emotion. We start with God and His revelation of Himself and the truth in His Word. Where my reasoning and will and feelings collide with God's Word, I'm wrong and need to change. Because if you start out looking at the row of cars that is human reasoning, will, and feelings, you'll end up in a nasty accident with possibly eternal consequences.

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