Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 2, 1955

God's Wisdom Versus Man's Wisdom

Thomas F. Shropshire, Ranger, Texas

In the first and second chapters of First Corinthians, we find a contrast drawn between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of men. In verse five of the second chapter, we find the reason why we should strictly adhere to the wisdom of God and disregard the wisdom of men. "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." As long as our faith stands in the wisdom of God, success will crown our efforts and God will be glorified. But when we forsake the wisdom of God and our faith stands in the wisdom of men, disaster is sure to follow.

There is an urgent need today for us to learn this lesson because the trend is present to seek to justify certain practices by an appeal to the wisdom of men. I have heard it used many times in different ways but recently I heard a statement made in which the idea was set forth thus. "There are four ways to teach a thing: one is by a command, the other is by an example, the other is by a necessary inference and the other is by a PRINCIPLE ETERNAL." I confess that I never had heard the last thing expressed in these words, "principle eternal," although the idea is not new. There are many things which look good when considered in the light of human wisdom but which are in conflict with the wisdom of God.

I do not intend to convey the idea that we are to discard the use of wisdom and judgment in serving the Lord. But the thing I am dealing with is the justification of things by the use of human wisdom and ignoring at the same time the wisdom of God which is revealed in His divine word. I confess that there are some things which I do not understand as to the reasons why God authorized certain things and why He placed bounds and limitations about them. He may have revealed the reasons and I am not smart enough to understand them. But my understanding of WHY this or that was or was not authorized is beside the point. I am smart enough to read the plain language of the inspired writers and understand WHAT the Lord authorizes and WHAT limitations have been placed upon them if any.

I wish now to consider some things in which this matter of divine wisdom and human wisdom is involved. Consider the practice which is prevalent in some sectarian bodies and which has the tendency to crop up in churches of Christ in some places. That which I refer to is the practice of women preaching. Consider the practice from the standpoint of human wisdom. In reasoning on it from this standpoint, I can see no logical reason why the practice should not be followed. I have known several women who, because of their knowledge and ability, would make excellent preachers. Further than that, if these women should become preachers, I can see no reason why many people would not hear the gospel through their preaching and be converted to Christ. Human wisdom would lead us to encourage those women, who have the knowledge and ability, to become preachers. But divine wisdom has limited woman's work in this respect in such a way as to make it a violation of God's will for a woman to be a preacher.

This principle is involved in the use of the Missionary Society for preaching the gospel. Let us look at that from the standpoint of human wisdom. In the first place, it should be easy to find among the churches, men with ample ability to conduct the affairs of such an organization. Too, there can be no question but that the gospel might be preached forcefully and effectively and many, many people be converted by that preaching. In view of these facts, human wisdom would suggest the folly of opposing the use of such an organization in preaching the gospel. But God's wisdom, revealed in the New Testament, has placed the bounds and limitations on the church in regard to preaching the gospel so as to make the use of the Missionary Society a violation of His will.

The same human wisdom is used to justify the cooperation of churches involved in the Herald of Truth radio program. According to human wisdom, the elders of the Highland church in Abilene, Texas are able men; capable of directing such a program. The preaching on the program might be the best to be had. Thousands and thousands of people might hear the gospel on the program and be saved. In view of these things, human wisdom would encourage us to support such a program to the limit. Human wisdom would tell us that it is a shame to let such a blessing as a national radio network be available without using it to preach the gospel. But God's wisdom, revealed in the New Testament, has so placed bounds and limitations upon congregational cooperation in preaching the gospel as to make Herald of Truth a violation of His will.