As the prophet Isaiah prophesied to the nation of Judah, he told them, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 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 thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:7-9). What is called Christianity in our day is suffering from a whole lot of following man’s thoughts rather than God’s thoughts. Before considering a couple of examples of this, let us understand how we may know what God’s thoughts are in order to listen to them rather than our own.
The apostle Paul reveals to us how we may know God’s thoughts. He quotes from Isaiah (Isa. 64:4), “…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:9). Now many point to this verse and say, “see, we don’t know what God has planned for us in the future”. However, that is not what this verse tells us. We cannot know the mind of God by way of our physical senses, just like we can not know what another person is thinking unless he or she tells us. Paul said, “For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (I Cor. 2:11). However, in the verse between these two verses, Paul said, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Cor. 2:10). We can know the thoughts of God because God has revealed them to the apostles by way of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Holy Spirit gave them the very words which they spoke. Paul said, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth…” (I Cor. 2:13). Before His death, Jesus promised His apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to them to provide this inspired knowledge of God’s will (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). This revelation of God’s thoughts are what we find in the pages of the New Testament. Paul said of the gospel, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). Now that we know how we can know God’s thoughts, let us consider a couple of examples of how man today is listening to their own thoughts rather than man’s.
It is common to hear man say, “one church is as good as another”. First, if one will study the New Testament, he will find that this is not mentioned in it. That being the case, we already know that such is not God’s thoughts, for His thoughts are revealed in it, but instead, man’s thoughts. Generally when the above statement is made, those who make it are in reference to the denominations, that one denomination is as good as another. In fact, preachers have been heard to thank God for the many denominations. But, denominations are not found in the New Testament either. That would mean that they are not a part of God’s thoughts either. So, what does God think concerning the church? Jesus was the builder of His church (Matt. 16:18). The church is His body and He is the head of it (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). And, there is just one body (Eph. 4:4) and all those who are saved are added to it (Acts 2:47; I Cor. 12:18). It is man’s own thinking that reasons all this division and variety of doctrine and practice is right and good. God doesn’t think that way (John 17:20-21; I Cor. 1:10).
Another example of how man’s thoughts have been substituted for God’s thoughts is seen in the subject of the necessity of baptism in order to be saved. Man reasons that since the Bible teaches we are saved by faith, then no acts of obedience are necessary in order to be saved. However, God does not think that way. God’s thoughts on the matter present baptism as a requirement for salvation. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” (Mark 16:16). Peter stated, “…repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). Ananias told Saul to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). And, the apostle Paul revealed the thoughts of God on how one can even get into Christ, where salvation exists and that is by baptism (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27). Man thinks obeying God somehow makes faith void. God doesn’t think that way. God thinks that obedience is the means by which we can make our faith complete. James, writing the thoughts of God said, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2:21-22).
Our thoughts and God’s thoughts are not the same, and God’s are right, not ours. God thought and Solomon wrote, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).