Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Another Mistaken Idea: God's Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways?

32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32 NLT

  Today I sensed the leading to once again look at some of the mistaken ideas that are being perpetrated onto the Body of Christ. These ideas creep into our thinking from religious tradition and by a simple misunderstanding of the Scriptures. When we look at the Word with New Covenant "eyes" and study the Scriptures in context these mistaken ideas are removed and clarity comes.

 How often have you heard the phrase God's ways are higher than our ways? Often when we hear this phrase, it is in respect of a situation we encounter in which we have no answer for. Meaning when we see a loved one succumb to a disease, a co-worker injured or viewing the news and some tragedy is being reported on. 

 Why did this infirmity overcome my loved one? Because God is mysterious and His ways are higher than ours. His purposes are too high for us to understand. Why didn't we get the job? God's thoughts are not your thoughts. His ways are past finding out. He is so mysterious. You just have to accept whatever comes your way without question. 

 This is the answer religious tradition, with their hyper sovereignty view, gives to answer why bad things happen. We know God is Omniscient, or all-knowing. He is Omnipresent, or everywhere at all times. He is Omnipotent or the all-powerful one. Religious tradition has created a new category, "omnicontrol." That is God is totally controlling every single action of every human that ever lived. 

 Got a flat tire? God did it. He is in total control. A person got sick or got into a car wreck? It couldn't simply be that this is a fallen World. That there is a devil loose who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. It couldn't be simply that we humans make mistakes, like poor choices in diet, not paying attention while driving, neglecting proper vehicle maintenance. No everything that goes wrong is because God's ways are higher and He is literally controlling every single action on Earth. 

 Foolish ideas like this are where mistaken ideas about God's ways actually rob us of a greater understanding of His goodness and Grace. This phrase His ways are higher comes from Isaiah 55. When we read this passage in context you will come up with an entirely different view than the religious perception. 

 This passage of Scripture is an amazing prophecy of God's great Grace and love. Allow me to post this passage in its entirety. I know it may be a lot but it is worth it. It is an amazing passage of Scripture.
 6. Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.

7. Let the wicked forsake his way

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

8. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

 9. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
 10. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

11. So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;

It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

12. “For you will go out with joy

And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

13. “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,

And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the Lord,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:6-13 NASB

Ok, I know that's a lot. It's so worth looking at though. It is the good news of Grace. First, let me correct the mistaken idea. His ways are higher than our ways, but in what way? And concerning what exactly? 

 God is offering compassion and abundant forgiveness to the wicked. He is offering Grace to the undeserving. In the Hebrew, He is offering not just forgiveness but multiplied forgiveness. In other words, to the level of their transgressions and wickedness, His Grace is much more abounding. Sounds something similar to what Paul said, where sin abounds Grace much more abounds. 

 God is saying here, I am offering an abundant pardon to undeserving wicked ones. Then He explains because His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. At this time, the Israelites only knew the Law. They knew an eye for an eye. They didn't see mercy extended to the undeserving. God is saying to humanity, my love and mercy extend to the outcast, the unwelcome, the worst of the worst. 

 The concept that God's ways are higher has nothing whatsoever to do with answering why bad things happen. It's a proclamation of His amazing, too good to be true, but true over the top Grace. I love how another translation states it, "This plan of mine is not what you would work out." 

 In full context, this passage is a clear proclamation of the New Covenant Grace to come. What God is saying is while He is offering relationship receive that invite. Accept His love and compassion. He will have mercy and multiply forgiveness towards us. Multiplied forgiveness, means forgiveness of our past and present and future sins. It's a perpetual cleansing and forgiveness. 

 He then declares He does this because His ways are higher than ours. We think in terms of vengeance. He thinks in terms of reconciliation and restoration. We seek to condemn the wicked, and He seeks to recreate, restore and renew the lost. He then offers an illustration of how sure and certain His Word of promise is. Then He shows us once we receive His promise we will be led out with joy. 

 Finally, He declares to us that there will be a memorial to what He has done. The Finished Work, a changed heart, a new life is forever a testament to His goodness and amazing Grace. I have seen countless people healed and made whole. I have seen many mighty miracles. Yet nothing can compare to a lost, sinful, wicked person, changing their mind about God and accepting His free gift of Grace and receiving new life in Christ. Seeing one pass from death to eternal life is the greatest miracle one can witness. 

 His thoughts aren't our thoughts? this is not a sentiment expressed to reveal that we can't know and understand our Father. It's not an answer to why bad things happen to us. It's a revelation of His goodness and amazing Grace. It's an insight into just how willing He is to extend forgiveness and mercy to the undeserving. In other words, He doesn't consult with religious leaders as to who He extends mercy and forgiveness to. He is love, He, therefore, offers an unconditional invitation to all people to freely receive new life and forgiveness by Grace through personal Faith. That is the good news of the Gospel. 
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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