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“THINKING ABOUT THINKING” – April 24

April 24, 2013

“For the Lord will not foresake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” 1 Samuel 12:22

The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, CA a...I had a Monday that taints the weekend with an odd color of anticipation. I had a one-day business trip to San Francisco scheduled.  I was to fly into Oakland International Airport in the morning, have my meeting, and fly out that same evening.  I am amazed at how travel has changed.  We left the car rental agency in Oakland without a map or direction.  All we had to help us navigate through an unfamiliar city was a GPS unit that I call Uncle Mel (that is a longer and different story).  I typed the directions in for Fort Mason on the Marin Headlands and Uncle Mel started to tell me where to go.

I had a rather disconcerting feeling of dependence as we were going through the labyrinth of one-way streets in the skyscraper canyons of downtown San Francisco.  I knew that our destination was just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge and I knew the general direction.  However, I was going to be hard pressed to navigate such an unfamiliar city if Uncle Mel died.

Uncle Mel faithfully guided us right to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I was very thankful for that beautiful bridge because it carried us across the chasm of water right to our destination with 15 minutes to spare.

I was reflecting on my trip as I listened through some podcasts on my way home.  I listened to a particular podcast called Philosophy for Theologians  that got me to thinking.  Dr. Vern Poythress was on the podcast to discuss his new book, Logic: A God-Centered Approach.  Dr. Poythress challenges the concept that logic is inherent to itself; that logic and rational thought, such as 2+2=4, exists whether God exists or not.  He proposes a distinctly Christian logic based on the reality that even logic is a revelation of a redeeming God.  He works to demonstrate how our ability to think rationally is grounded in the very nature of God himself.  The implications of this Biblical worldview are profound.

I thought about my trip through San Francisco to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and how similar I believe that is to our salvation.  I believe that the Spirit guides all who are called through the myriad of life’s one-way streets, imposing intellectual canyons, dangerous neighborhoods; past dead-ends, playgrounds, restaurants, and park benches.  The Spirit guides us along a route where we are completely dependent upon Him.  Often, a traveler doesn’t even realize that they were being guided when they come right to the foot of the cross.

I realize that there is debate among my brothers and sisters in Christ as to the degree and extent that the Spirit draws people to the Father.  I tend to attribute the drawing of a person’s soul to the cross as a complete work of God.  There are some who view it as a complete work of man’s free-will.  There are still others who view it as a combination of a person’s free-will and the Spirit drawing.

As my plane was whisking me home, I rolled this concept of rational thought, as presented by Dr. Poythress, around in my mind; considering the implications to man’s free-will.  The function of man’s free-will is a result of that person’s rational thought.  If rational thought is a revelation of our redeeming God, then even the functioning of a person’s free-will is a reflection, although an often poor and weak reflection, of the very nature of God.

God has given us a rational mind.  He has placed us in a world where 2+2=4.  I cannot comprehend a world where 2+2 does not equal 4 but that does not mean that God could not have created a world where simple logic did not apply.  I am a created creature with a limited mind and understanding, just because I cannot comprehend something does not mean that it is impossible.

The reality is that 2+2 does equal 4 and that is an incredible gift.  It means that we can make decisions; we can think through difficult questions; we can follow directions and we can respond when called.   Therefore, we could never be saved if God did not create us with a rational mind in a world where logic worked.

San Francisco downtown seen from helicopter

San Francisco downtown seen from helicopter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would have never made it out of San Francisco if I was incapable of rational thought.  If I could not think logically I would not have been able to follow the directions of Uncle Mel.  If Uncle Mel had not worked, I would not have been able to deduce the correct route to the Golden Gate Bridge.  In the same way, no one can come to the cross without God.  Rational thought is a God glorifying gift of God.  No one could ever find God if He did not first give us the ability to seek.

Now, the Bible teaches us that no one can get across the chasm that separates us from God.  We all come to the bank of our lives with the realization that our sin has separated us from the holy and righteous God.  There is nothing that we can do to span the gulf created by our unrighteousness.  That is why God had to give us a bridge.  We are powerless through our own ability to reach our eternal destination.  The free gift of eternal life is by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross in payment for our sins and that is our only bridge to eternity.

No one can reach God without God.

No one comes to the Father by any other route than through Christ.

We are all travelers on the road to our eternal destination.   It is an amazing work of grace that any person is ever allowed into the presence of the King of kings.  I think that we will all be amazed to the extent of grace that we have been shown in this life.  I think we will learn of so many aspects of this life that we have taken for granted, like rational thought, that are really gifts of mercy and grace from a loving Father calling His children home.

May God be glorified in every breath we take and every thought that we make.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for blessing me and taking care of me in ways that are beyond my comprehension.  Thank you for gifting men like Dr. Poythress to teach us to think deeply about you.  Thank you for the ability to seek you.  Most of all Lord, thank you for allowing yourself to be found.  You truly are great and worthy of all praise.  I praise you and pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

9 comments

  1. You’ve zeroed in on important truth: The Spirit guides us to dependence upon Him. If that’s my heart’s desire, then detours, steep hills, strange surroundings, etc. won’t faze me. I can relax; God knows what he’s doing. Thank you for the timely reminder, JD!


  2. Truly all though, all ideas, all creativity, all passion originates with God. He loved us so much that he sent His Holy Spirit to “guide us”. In a way, reflecting on your example above, God’s perfect guidance is the origin of GPS directions. Of course, His directions never fail.


  3. I’m thankful for this intelligence He has bestowed as well. It is so true that the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom. I can’t keep a list of things to do in my head, but I can certainly keep the deep things of God. He has given us minds to praise, and minds to share this wonderful knowledge of who He is.. and it is SO AWESOME! Great post.. I love listening and learning about theology, too. I will have to check out Mr. Poythress!


  4. “[If rational thought is a revelation of our redeeming God, then even the functioning of a person’s free-will is a reflection, although an often poor and weak reflection, of the very nature of God.]” Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
    We are the image and likeness of God according to God. That would include the ability to choose, just as he gave man in the garden. Knowing that this free-will could change his original intention, he never the less included that in our nature because it was in His nature.
    A softened Calvinist sentiment about salvation and about free-will are interesting. My question is and always will be, if God is responsible for drawing us to him before we have a choice and a free-will to decide for ourselves what the truth is, why would have God went through the trouble to play Satan’s game all the way through to the end.? If he has called some of us through his “irresistible grace” and a person can not help but be drawn to God, then it really is not our decision but God’s. Therefore we do not truly have free-will and God could have just looked at those whom he would draw and then burn the rest. John Calvin believed this and like Saul would participate in the murder of someone with whom he disagreed.
    My take on it is from Matthew Chapter 7:
    7 `Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you;

    8 for every one who is asking doth receive, and he who is seeking doth find, and to him who is knocking it shall be opened.

    9 `Or what man is of you, of whom, if his son may ask a loaf — a stone will he present to him? 10 and if a fish he may ask — a serpent will he present to him? 11 if, therefore, ye being evil, have known good gifts to give to your children, how much more shall your Father who [is] in the heavens give good things to those asking him?
    Notice verse 8 the word seek. from the Greek: zētéō – properly, to seek by inquiring; “to investigate” to reach a binding resolution; to search, “getting to the bottom of a matter.”
    It tells me quite plainly that it is I that is seeking and asking, not God. I like the idea of “to investigate” because I believe that is what leads us towards God. When we take the time to look closely and contemplate our existence, it is then that God begins to reveal himself to the seeker through the creation itself. Ask, seek and knock. Christ’s order of these is not an accident. I first have questions, so I ask. I then seek further investigation and as the Lord is revealed through this I knock and God opens the door to start a relationship with me.
    It appears to me that it is the individual who asks, seeks and knocks not God. I can only see this as it is our free-will to do this or not.
    Lest someone might use Revelation 3:20 as an example of Christ knocking, remember this was to the Church that has become distracted by riches and luxury, so Christ is speaking to those already in the Church but off on a wayward course. It is a exhortation to “wake up” He is knocking on the door of the Church.
    This is my take on free-will and I am not the end-all authority on these matters but it is a subject near to my heart and I wanted to respond.
    In Christ
    Dan


    • Hey Dan, you might find this interesting: http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/audio/light-world1a/

      Blessing friend 🙂


      • Yeah, no thanks Kristy, I’m a recovering lordship Salvationist and do not want to go down that dead end road again. I am always amazed at “Christians” who can view the Holy God as small as Calvinists often do. Good luck with RC. I think Christ’s words speak for themselves and John Calvin along with RC and other theologians of that ilk can keep reading things into the Gospel that are not there. I don’t care to debate that topic. I am all to familiar with the spiritual destruction that plagued my life till I was set free from it. My point was to Christ’s words about our active roll in seeking him with our free-will to either accept or reject the truth presented to “ALL” men. If you have an idea about that I would be pleased to chat
        Blessings
        Dan


  5. I am looking forward to the day when I walk kn streets of pure gold and won’t need a GPS, smartphone, or automobile to go anywhere.


  6. I live near there. I have been some of those places. I have my own “Uncle Mel” talking head that directs me from the dashboard. I never thought of likening the leading of the Holy Spirit to a GPS guiding us through everything to our destination: Heaven. Masterful piece of writing!


  7. I love how you find God in your every day journeys and put it into great lessons/ stories



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