“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says 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’” (Isaiah 55:8, 9).
“But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
How should I think about the situation in which we find ourselves after the first week of the Biden presidency? Resignation, fear, anger, determination, anticipation and excitement are several live possibilities. Notice I said “How should I think?” not “What should I think?” There is a vast difference between the two. “How” is a process; “what” is an outcome of that process. If I am thinking angrily, what I think will naturally be vastly different than if I am thinking excitedly.
Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies; For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. (Proverbs 23:6, 7).
The man being referred to here is a miser, and he thinks as one, although he is trying to be generous. How he still thinks in his heart will ultimately betray him, no matter what he says and does, because how he thinks is who he is.
The Bible clearly lays out for us as Christians how to learn to think a new way—God’s way. It is different from the way we, initially in Adam, learned to think at the Tree in the Garden—through the lens of “good and evil.” We are learning this new way by the “renewing of our minds” by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:10). He is gradually teaching us how to think with “the mind of Christ,” the way He thinks. It is completely opposite from our natural way we learned in the Garden.
There are several biblical pillars that one understands and embraces as he learns to think this way. We are going to examine them carefully and biblically in the next few weeks, because nothing is more crucial for us to see. The first is:
The sovereignty of God. I watched a video this morning by a man I respect, and who has a great understanding of the purpose and plan of God on the earth, which happens to be one of our pillars! He probably came to the Lord as a young man, during the charismatic renewal in the 1960s and 1970s, and is currently a popular leader in the experiential, charismatic wing of the Christian church.
He has an excellent, nation-wide ministry, and I’m sure he would claim to believe that God is sovereign, but he is unknowingly trapped in his unrecognized presupposition of “the free will of man.” I don’t imagine he has ever questioned that assumption. Almost every discussion of God’s omnipotence, just as in the video I watched, always begins with, “Of course, we know that man has free will because God is a gentleman. He has limited Himself so that He never violates our free will.”
Do the following verses teach man’s free will that God, “the gentleman,” never violates? Read each verse, carefully thinking “What if that were really true?”
Job 23:13 – “But He (God) is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does (…in my life, whether I want Him to or not).
Job 42:2 – “Then Job answered Jehovah, and said, I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (…even if I disagree with it).
Psalm 115:3 – “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever he wishes” (…without first consulting me).
Psalm 135:6 – “Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places (…and in nature, in history, in my personal life).
Isaiah 14:24 – “The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand’” (…without my input).
Isaiah 14:27 – “For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” (…surely not I).
Isaiah 45:6,7 – “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create evil, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (…yes, even ‘create evil’ – KJV).
Ephesians 1:11 – “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (…all things, just as He wills, down to the tiniest detail of my life).
This is just a handful of dozens of verses with the same theme. Do they sound like God ever defers to our wishes, as a “gentleman” would do?
You may be thinking, “We’re not puppets, are we?” Of course, the Bible never calls us that. Instead, it uses the term commonly used in biblical times for one who had absolutely no free will whatsoever—slaves. We are called “slaves of God” in Romans 6:22. Was not Jesus our model, living here on earth as a man, for how to live as a “slave,” or a” puppet,“ in His relationship with His Father? He did exactly what His Father told Him to do, never questioning, doubting or arguing (as we do). Lord, may we eagerly embrace the opportunity to be Your slaves and jettison the idol of our “free will!”
So, the first indispensable pillar, in learning to think a new way, is the absolute sovereignty of God. Next week we will look at the second pillar, God is love, and what that phrase, reiterated time and again in the Bible, really means. In the process we will see another very important distinction. Just as “how we think” is distinct from “what we think,” there is also a crucial difference between the love we, in our hearts, actually have for others, and the love God commands us to have for others. Next week!
I am so grateful that you have continued to write pieces on your blog even though you had decided to “retire.” I am really interested in hearing more of your thoughts on God’s sovereignty. It is something I have been talking about with my children a lot lately. Would you say there is a difference between sovereignty and control? I absolutely believe in God’s sovereignty, but I am not sure I believe that He controls everything that happens. He is absolutely more powerful than the choices we make and the things that happen in our fallen world, and because of His goodness, He will accomplish His purposes no matter what. But I’m not sure there is Biblical support for the idea of “absolute sovereignty” if but that you mean control. In searching for a way to talk about it with my kids I have said it like this… God voluntarily laid down “control” over us as His creation in order to offer us the freedom to choose to love Him. I don’t believe that His laying down this control takes away any of His ultimate sovereignty or power to accomplish His purposes no matter what we choose, but it does help us to take responsibility for our part of our relationship with Him and the purpose to which He has called us… to build/expand His Kingdom (Heaven’s principles) on the earth. I would welcome your thoughts on this.
Annie, Thanks for your great response. I have laid out my view in great detail in my book, Two Edges of the Sword, as I also did in Scandalous Gospel, both available on my website. I often discuss that book (including this idea) with readers a chapter at a time on the phone, e.g., a chapter a week. If you would like to do that, I would be thrilled to do it with you! Let me know.
I have your book on family and have been following your blog for several years (I met you at a homeschool convention a few years back), so I am embarrassed that I didn’t know you talk about this in your other books. I will order them, read them, and will definitely reach out to discuss them. You have a very powerful anointing on your life and message, which I sensed when I met you. I respect you a great deal because of your emphasis on the Word of God as the foundation of ALL truth. Thank you for your ministry. IT IS HAVING A GREATER IMACT THAN YOU KNOW. I will be in touch soon (but know that “soon” is a relative term in my life as I am a homeschooling mom of 6).
God bless you!
What an encouragement you are, Annie! Would love to get to know you and your family. You are a warrior! Let’s talk on the phone. My number is on the website. Call me and leave a message and I’ll call you back.