Throughout the Bible, we find instances where God instructed people to do things that did not make sense to them. God tells Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering in Genesis 22, even though Isaac was the child of promise, the son through whom Abraham would become father of a great multitude. (Hebrews 11:19 tells us how Abraham reconciled this in his own mind.) God tells the children of Israel to march around Jericho once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. This would lead to the collapse of the city's fortification. Jesus told His disciples, who had toiled all night out on the sea as experienced fishermen, to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. This led to (likely) the most voluminous catch of their careers. There is almost a pattern here where God instructs His people to do something that doesn't make sense to them and (this is key) requires faith as evidenced by their obedience.
Earlier in my ministry, I taught that God did this, because He operated outside of logic. The scaffolding of my teaching was not awful, but my language was imprecise. I began to struggle with the idea that God, who created logic, who is not the author of confusion, would be illogical. By no means do I suggest that God cannot suspend the principles of logic just as He does the laws of the physical realm to accomplish His purpose. I just felt there was something here that I was missing.
Bible study led me to this clarification. God is indeed an intensely logical God. Information has a significant bearing on what is logical. Can one boy's lunch feed 5,000 people? Ordinarily, no; it cannot. But if you have the ability to multiply it and if you know that you intend to do so, then yes, it can. This information about God's power and plan - known at that time only to God Himself - makes all the difference. In 2 Kings 6, Elisha and his right hand man are surrounded by the chariots and horses of the king of Syria. However, the LORD opened the eyes of Elisha's servant, and he was able to see that those who were with him and Elisha were greater than those who were against them. Information made the difference between what was logical and what was not logical.
The principle is this. God gives us instruction to follow in faith, at times, with incomplete information. We are to depend on God. His ways are higher; his thoughts are higher. Why? For one thing, because He has all knowledge. You cannot add information to Him. Therefore, His logic is supreme. It doesn't mean that He is not a logical God; it just means that He has more information. Therefore, His logic is superior. We should therefore trust Him and obey His instruction in faith.
As we continue to lead God's people in an increasingly post-Christian environment, common misunderstandings about our faith can create unhelpful distance between ourselves and the people we are trying to reach. It is my hope that the insights in this series of posts help bridge that gap in a way that promotes fulfillment of the Lord's Great Commission.
When researchers test their hypotheses in view of establishing theories, they will set forth various predictions that should come to pass if their hypotheses are correct. If their predictions do not come to pass, the theory may need adjusting or the assumptions that led to these predictions may be faulty. For the present discussion, here's what this means.
Non-Christians will sometimes point to the moral failure of a Christian leader as evidence that Christianity itself is a sham. As Christians, we would immediately recognize the disastrous effects of moral failures among our leaders, and one of these certainly is the impact these failures have on the unbelieving community. The idea, though, betrays a myth about Christianity - a faulty prediction.
The faulty prediction would be: If Christianity is true, Christian leaders will never fall. This is a non sequitur. This opens up the issue of theory versus practice. In theory, Christ always provides a way to escape temptation, so we should be able to live our lives without sinning (1 Cor. 10:13). In practice, though, there are many times that the spirit is willing, yet the flesh is weak.. In such times, we do not take the path of escape that God has provided. The Bible is very clear that believers retain a sin nature up until such time as we receive our glorified bodies (Phil. 3:21, e.g.). Until then, we will face a war in our members (Rom. 7:23 ff.). We have choices. We can put on the new man or the old man (Eph. 4:22-24). The reality is that the truth of Christianity does not hinge on the morality of Christian leaders. The fact that we retain this sin nature almost means that all of us are hypocrites to some degree. Even though we are not always true to our own profession of faith, the weakness of our sinful flesh does not mean that the Christian faith is hogwash. Christian doctrine does not pretend to teach that Christians, once saved, will never again sin (John 13:10). Therefore, to dismiss Christianity on the grounds that some of its proponents fail is logically unsound.
That said, let us provoke one another to good works (Heb. 10:24). Let us give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time, we should let them slip (Heb. 2:1). And let our light so shine that men may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven (Matt. 5:16). The more our walk matches our talk the less explaining of our failures we will have to do before unbelievers and the more Gospel-sharing we will be able to pursue (1 Cor. 9:27).
Pastor Billy Shaw is a full-time pastor, husband, and father with a passion for helping other pastors.