The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
January 12, 2014
1) The Danger of "Thinking for Ourselves" (Marc W. Gibson)
2) Hardening Pharaoh's Heart (David Padfield)
3) News & Notes
The Danger of "Thinking for Ourselves"
by Marc W. Gibson
From time to time I will hear someone extolling the virtues of
"thinking for yourself." We should be thankful that we live in
a country where we have the right to our own opinions and to express
them. And while it is true that no other human being can do
our thinking for us, the idea of "thinking for yourself" has been
taken to an extreme to defend open disagreement with and
disobedience to divine standards of authority. The continuing
breakdown of the moral fabric of our society is defended as people
having the right to "think for themselves." Secular humanists
who style themselves as "freethinkers" mock God and religion.
Even in the church today, biblical facts and literal truths are
being questioned and rejected in the name of "thinking for
God Must Direct Our Thinking
It is argued that no one has the right to do your thinking for
you. Yet God has the absolute right to direct our thinking and
we must submit our thoughts and ways to him. God told the wicked and
unrighteous people of Israel, "My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways" (Isa. 55:8). These people were
"thinking for themselves" and were not thinking the thoughts of
God. What were they to do? "Seek the Lord while He may be
found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his
way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts" (vv. 6-7a). There
is a time when we should not "think for ourselves," but submit our
thinking to the revealed thoughts of God. To do otherwise will
put us in danger of erroneous thinking and deceiving
Examples of Naaman and Paul
When Naaman, the Syrian commander afflicted with leprosy, was told
by Elisha to dip seven times in the Jordan, he decided to "think for
himself." The Bible says, "Naaman became furious and went away
and said, 'Indeed I said to myself, "He will surely come out to me,
and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his
hand over the place, and heal the leprosy." Are not the Abanah
and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters
of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?' So he
turned and went away in a rage" (2 Kings 5:11-12).
Some today would congratulate Namaan for rejecting the prophet's
command and not letting anyone do his "thinking" for him. Yet,
he would have remained a leper if he had not eventually humbled
himself and submitted to the command of God (vv. 13-14). One
can fuss and fume about what the Bible says, but he will not please
God until he is willing to think the thoughts of God.
The apostle Paul recalled the time when he, as Saul of Tarsus, did
his own thinking: "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things
contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). He
admitted that the consequences of his own "thinking" were the
punishment and persecution of Christians (vv. 10-11). Was Paul
proud of his "free thinking" days when he did what he thought was
right, even though it was contrary to the thoughts of God? I
think not. "Thinking for yourself" is never an excuse for
believing and acting contrary to the revealed will of God.
The Thoughts of Men vs. The Thoughts of God
Peter told Simon the sorcerer, "Your money perish with you, because
you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!"
(Acts 8:20). Simon did not have "freedom of thought" when it
came to the truth about the nature and work of the Holy
Spirit. In religion today, many think that one church is as
good as another, but the Bible says there is one body (Eph.
4:4). Some think God will save all sincere, honest people in
all religions, but the Bible says that salvation is available only
in Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Many think that we are saved
by faith only and a sinner's prayer, but the Bible teaches that
salvation is granted by God after we believe, repent, confess, and
are baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9-10). Many think
that we can worship God with mechanical instruments of music, but
Christians are only commanded to sing and make melody in the heart
(Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). Some think that we can follow
latter-day revelations, but we are not to add to or take away from
God's word (Rev. 22:18-19). There are those who think that we
can have ongoing fellowship with those who teach error on subjects
such as marriage, divorce, and remarriage, but the Bible says we are
not to receive one who does not bring the doctrine of Christ (2 John
9-11). These examples illustrate the fact that many today do
their own "thinking" in religion and have gone contrary to the will
As people move further away from God's word, the calls for
"independent thinking" increase. Instead of clearly pointing
out biblical truths that unify, false teachers put forward several
"interpretations" with the explanation that the Bible lacks
"clarity." We are told that each person must "decide for
himself" what the truth is. Instead of understanding the Bible
alike, those who have rejected the thoughts of God promote and
defend unity-in-doctrinal diversity. This is being taught to a
new generation and applied to the creation account, marriage and
divorce, worship, modesty, gambling, social drinking, etc. Of
course, those opposing this error are regarded as "narrow-minded"
simpletons with "tunnel vision" who oppose "independent
thinking." Regardless, the Bible still tells us "not to think
beyond what is written" (1 Cor. 4:6).
There is no virtue in "thinking for ourselves" when it results in
rejecting the thoughts of God. We need the attitude of David
who wrote, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they
would be more in number than the sand" (Ps. 139:17-18). The
weapons of our warfare against human wisdom are described as "mighty
in God, for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and
every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God
bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2
Cor. 10:4-5). Our thoughts must be God's thoughts!
The word of God is described as "living and powerful, and sharper
than any two-edged sword . . . and is a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). Next time you want to
"think for yourself," remember that the word of God will discern
those thoughts and intents of your heart. Will you be found
thinking the thoughts of God? Or will you let the thoughts of
human wisdom move you away from the Lord Jesus "in whom are hidden
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3)?
-- Via Truth Magazine, October 2, 2003, Vol. XLVII, No. 19
Hardening Pharaoh's Heart
by David Padfield
Of all the characters in the Bible, few have caused as much
speculation as the Pharaoh who ruled Egypt during the time of
Moses. God spoke to Moses about Pharaoh and said, "I will
harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go" (Exodus
4:21). This promise of God was repeated on several other
occasions (Exodus 7:3; 9:12; 10:20,27).
Many fanciful theories have been devised to explain how God hardened
Pharaoh's heart. Calvinists often point to this case and claim
that God miraculously hardened his heart by the Holy Spirit.
But, as is always the case, their argument fails in the light of
Three times in the narrative we read that Pharaoh "hardened his own
heart" (Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34). Four other times the Bible
simply says his heart "grew" or "became" hard (Exodus 7:14,22; 8:19;
9:7). The record also indicates the magicians had a hand in the
hardening of Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 7:22, 8:19).
When we put all the pieces together, what do we find?
Pharaoh was an insolent, arrogant and cruel man. He had two
reasons for not wanting to release the Israelites: pride and
covetousness. It would look bad for a monarch to allow nearly
two million slaves to go free. It would also hurt the national
economy if he lost his labor force.
It went against the grain for one to make demands in the name of
Jehovah. Every time Moses spoke Pharaoh's heart grew harder.
The magicians also played a part in the hardening of Pharaoh's
heart. By the use of enchantments, they tried to minimize the
miracles of Moses. Jamieson commented, "The art of those
ancient magicians, who were not common jugglers, but educated men,
was enlisted in support of idolatry of Egypt ... it is not difficult
to imagine what immense power those professors of occult science
must have wielded over the minds of men in an age of darkness, when
the superstition of Egypt was in all its glory."
God hardens the hearts of men today the same way He did 3,500 years
ago. Some will never listen to a simple gospel preacher. The
"pride of life" (1 John 2:16) will cause them to close their
ears. Pride kept many of the rulers from confessing Christ,
"Lest they be put out of the synagogue; for they love the praise or
men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42, 43).
When a man repeatedly hears the gospel message, yet refuses to obey
it, his conscience becomes "seared" (1 Tim 4:2). To some men, gospel
preachers are the "aroma of life," but to those who have had their
conscience seared, they are the "aroma of death" (2 Cor.
False teachers also help to harden the hearts of some.
Pentecostal preachers, by their use of "signs and lying wonders" (2
Thess. 2:9), have deceived people into putting their trust in things
other than God's word. Denominational creed-books and
traditions have also blinded men to the truth (Matt 15:8,9).
Pharaoh had the opportunity to heed the message of God. I am sure he
would give 1,000 worlds like this one for another chance. You
have the same choice Pharaoh had. The difference is that he
cannot change his decision, but you can.
-- Via The Beacon, 12/11/12
News & Notes
Colston (Jackson Moon's great grandfather) will be having
bladder surgery this Friday, due to cancer. Let those of us
who are Christians pray that all will go well for him.
Doris Crews is now back home from the hospital and
receiving physical therapy three times a week in her home,
following the surgery she had December 26, due to slipping on the
ice and breaking her hip.
Donna Gail St. Clair has been having acute bronchitis, and
for which she went to the emergency room on January 12 to seek
Let us also continue to offer prayers for Virginia
Fontenot, Shirley Young, Cheryl Crews, and Terry and Pam
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom.
10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins
(Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet.
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can
be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
(Gospel Observer website)