Assorted Lessons for Us Life-long Learners, Pt. 5
Study Guide, September 6, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
So, how many T-shirts would you guess that you have in your closet? T-shirts are pretty much the ‘go to’ clothing item. Apparently, it was the Navy that began making the ‘T-shirt’ popular, back in 1913. And then it was in the 60’s that the practice of putting slogans on T-shirts began. And ever since then the T-shirt became the ‘go to’ way to promote both slogans and sayings about all kinds of things in life. I remember one saying I saw on a little kid at a park that said: “I Have Issues!” I’m sure he did! Then I recently saw one I could wear that said: “Hang on…let me overthink this.” Then a recent one I saw said this: “I already ate all of my quarantine snacks!” That’s pretty good.
Nate and I, and Roger, too, often talk about coming up with a list of sayings for a line of T-shirts. Years ago, a band named ‘Stellar Kart’ had a song that said: “Life is good…Eternal life is better.” That’s a terrific saying. But here is an idea kind of like that, and it would really cause people to think about it. So how about this for a saying on a T-shirt? “Logical is good….Theo-logical is better!” Maybe we would have to add…. “Think about it.”
But really, think about it. It is good to be logical. And ‘logical’ means: ‘Capable of reflecting and using correct and valid reasoning.’ It also means: ‘Marked by an orderly and aesthetically consistent relation of parts.’ That makes you feel good just thinking about it. And it sure does sound a whole lot better that being ‘illogical’, because do you know what ‘illogical’ actually means? It means to be ‘confused, disconnected, disjointed, disordered, scattered, and garbled.’ So there is ‘logical thinking’ and then there is ‘garbled thinking’. And ‘garbled’ is not good at all. But it’s pretty apparent that there is a whole lot of ‘garbled thinking’ that is going on in most places across the globe.
But why do we bring this up? We bring this up to stress just how critical it is to clearly understand that even more important than ‘what’ we think is ‘how’ we think, because ‘how’ we think will often determine ‘what’ we think. So let’s think about that! In one of the clearest instructions from the most logical and ‘theo-logical’ book in the world, the Bible, we are instructed: Prov 3:5-7- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” NASU And the Amplified Bible puts it like this: “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil.”
Most people suffer their entire lives from this self-inflicted psychosis of: ‘leaning on their own understanding’. And psychosis means: “Any severe mental disorder in which contact with reality is lost or highly distorted.” How surprising that this definition of ‘psychosis’ is an exact description of any kind of human reasoning that leaves God and God’s revelation and God’s reasoning out of their worldview. Any reasoning that is disconnected from God’s reasoning really is a loss of contact with reality; and is completely distorted reasoning. And not only is it distorted; it is damaging.
Do you remember the warning of Prov 15:32-33- “If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” NLT You see, the neglect of fearing God is harmful to yourself. It is self-inflicted harm. The neglect of the discipline of learning from God is self-inflicted harm. And the neglect of injecting God’s reasoning and injecting God’s logic into how you think about life and do life…all of this is simply self-inflicted harm. And this self-inflicted harm then spreads to others around you and simply exacerbates the harm that is being done to them as well. And all of that is the description of not only foolishness, but of rebellion against your Creator. And that is the essence of ‘sin’… ‘rebellion against the Creator’. Leaning on and trusting in your own understanding and reasoning instead of learning and then trusting in God’s revelation and reasoning is the sin of rebellion against God. And, as Proverbs 15 pointed out, we are simply inflicting unnecessary harm on ourselves. And that is not wise at all…ie. ‘foolish’!
Now then, if you connect what Proverbs says about being careful to not trust in or not rely on our own reasoning with what we find God also saying to Isaiah about it, it gets really fascinating. God said this to Isaiah: Isa 1:18- “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord…” NASU And the Lord then went on to give further revelation to Isaiah. In other words, God said to Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together” and Isaiah’s response was basically… “Yes Lord, but let’s just use Your reasoning, okay?!” We know that was Isaiah’s attitude because of all the other things he said to God and then revealed to us about our need to use God’s reasoning above anything that we think. Remember this one: Isa 55:8-9- “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares 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.” NASU
That’s a pretty big difference, don’t you think? So the next time you think about just trusting in your own thoughts and your own ways about things…trusting that they are probably on the same level as God’s….well, just step outside and look up, and then do a little comparison! Yeah…now we see the difference, right?
So now, it’s time to inject the T-shirt: ‘Logical is good…Theo-logical is better!’ Fortunately, God has written His law upon the hearts of mankind. God has imprinted the witness that we have a Creator upon our hearts and has imprinted the witness that we live in a created order and universe upon our minds. And because God has imprinted this in the heart and conscience of man, man is thus capable of thinking about life according to a system of order, which is the basic definition of ‘logic’; ‘a system of order’. And by the general grace that God gives to all mankind, people can use basic logic to think and reason about life. However, man’s logic and God’s logic are still as distinct as the heavens are from the earth. Or, we could put it like this: ‘For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So is God’s ‘theo-logical’ reasoning higher than man’s ‘logical reasoning’.
Fortunately, and once again, because of God’s general grace to all, the mind of mankind is drawn toward logic. But even though the mind of mankind is drawn toward logic, the soul of mankind craves God’s logic. The soul of mankind longs for more than the ‘logical’ aspects of life; it craves the ‘Theo-logical’ realities of God. Augustine put it like this: “God has made us for Himself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him.”
Therefore, our souls long to find their ‘rest’ in a relationship with God, which comes when we turn to God in repentance and trust in Jesus Christ by faith to be our Savior. And then our minds find their ‘restoration’ or their ‘re-formation’ by injecting God’s ‘theo-logical’ reasoning into our ‘logical’ reasoning. And the way that we do that is that we come alongside of Isaiah, and we ‘reason together with God’ about everything in life. In other words, we have to inject ‘God’s logic’ into our logic. Remember, part of walking with God is ‘thinking with God’, thinking about life with God’s thoughts about life, using His reasoning and His logic.
Plus, and since we know that God’s reasoning is as different from human reasoning as the heavens are above the earth, we also then should be totally clear on the fact that God’s reasoning is the only reasoning that makes any sense at all concerning life here, and in the life hereafter. And, we should also be really clear on the fact that to the degree that we fail to go with God’s reasoning, or to the degree that we fail to inject the ‘theo-logical’ of God’s Word into the ‘logical’ of our life, to that degree we will fall into being ‘illogical’ about everything…meaning: ‘confused, disconnected, disjointed, disordered, scattered, and garbled in our mind and emotions and experiences throughout life! Solomon simply described that as both ‘a wasted life’ and ‘foolish to the max’. He didn’t say ‘to the max’, but we know that’s what he meant, right? Why be ‘foolish to the max’ when God will help you be ‘wise to the max’! Again, that’s what we mean by ‘Logical is good…Theo-logical is better!’
Let’s just point out one example of how injecting the ‘theological’ into the ‘logical’ of life plays out. Look at this: Eph 5:15-17- “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” NKJV That’s a great passage! Now, the word ‘circumspectly’ carries the idea of ‘precision and accuracy’. So we could say, live life carefully and live it with purpose. Otherwise, a person that is living carelessly and without guidance is basically just living ‘aimlessly’; living without aim and without ‘purpose’. And, as my College Pastor liked to say: “When you aim at nothing, you hit it every time.”
But you see, now we have something to ‘inject’ into our daily lives…or inject into the here and now. Remember last time we talked about the past, present, and future, or we could put it in terms of ‘yesterday, today, and tomorrow’. The interesting thing about that is that in terms of ‘life’ itself, life is not yesterday, and neither is it tomorrow, because ‘tomorrow’ is only a way to describe time. Rather, life will always be ‘here and now’. Life is ‘the eternal now’. Therefore, regardless of whatever life was like for you yesterday or what it will be like for you tomorrow…wisdom is making life whatever God intended life to be like for you ‘now’…today. You can’t live in yesterday…for that is the past. And you can’t live in tomorrow…for tomorrow is always ‘future’. And even when the future comes, when tomorrow comes, it will then be ‘today’. So what we are saying is: You can only and will only ever live in ‘today…for today is ‘now’; it is the ‘here and now’. Even when you get to Heaven, it will no longer be the ‘hereafter’ to you, it will be the ‘here’ to you. Life in Heaven won’t be the hereafter to you, it will be the ‘here and now’. Every ‘tomorrow’ will be a ‘new today’.
(And so we might ask, “So, does that mean there will be ‘time’ in Heaven after all?” Well, we don’t have time to get into that today…maybe sometime later we can.)
Back to injecting ‘theology into our thinking’: We are called to ‘redeem the time’. And ‘redeem’ implies a purchase. Which means that it will cost something of us. And what is the cost? “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” The cost is this: ‘Not my will, but Thy will be done.’ To redeem the time will cost us choosing God’s will over our own, and then doing God’s will instead of our own. But this cost is not just an expense. No, remember, this cost is also a glorious investment. For we are to know by now, that every good thing we do, every ‘God thing’ we do is an eternal investment that God has promised to reward us for, even more than we can imagine. And so we are called to redeem the time, or to make the most of every opportunity to do the things ‘today’ that God will reward us for ‘tomorrow’ and forever. And those are things like: sharing the Gospel with the lost; and discipling the saved; growing in the grace and knowledge of God’s Word; doing good to others…especially to those of the household of faith; caring for the widows and the poor; interceding for others in prayer; and seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
So in wrapping it up, if we are going to inject the ‘theological’ into the ‘logical’ of our lives, that means we are going to have to inject ‘God’s purposes’ into our present day lives. We will each need to live each day with ‘God’s purposes’ in mind. And in order to do that we will have to practice, not just thinking logically about the things of life; we will have to commit ourselves to thinking ‘theo-logically’ about everything in our lives.
I like to think of it as though every morning God says to us: “Come now; and let us reason together.”