Friday, September 28, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 4)

Reasoning in our Hearts

While we all at times reason with others, and may even reason with God, our primary mode of reasoning is in our hearts. Some have relegated the realm of the mind, intellect, and reason to the soul, but Jesus makes it abundantly clear that when we reason, we reason in our hearts. Consider the following scriptures.
"But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?' Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, 'Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?'" (Mark 2:6-8)

"But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side..." (Luke 9:47)
Reasoning is not a soulish activity but rather a process that takes place within our hearts.

The problem with our reasoning is not the process itself, but rather that it is limited and affected by the condition of our heart. If our heart is clean and pure, then so will be our reasoning, but if our heart is polluted by sin, then too will be our reasoning. "To the pure , all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled." (Titus 1:15) Here are some examples from the scriptures of how the condition of our heart can affect the quality of our reasoning.

"Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; they have called their lands after their own names." (Psalms 49:11) When our hearts are full of pride we loose sight of the brevity of life. We will not live forever nor will our works. Pride causes us to misjudge the things that are of first value and can lead us to pursue things that temporal and passing away.

"Abraham said, 'Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.'" (Genesis 20:11) Abraham judged king Abimelech and the people of Gerar, not based upon facts or observations, but rather based on presumption and prejudices. Presumption blinds us to the truth and distorts our vision of reality.

"These things you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes." (Psalms 50:21) Just because we believe something does not make it true. Believing as true that which is really a lie is called deception. Regardless of the source of the deception, it will keep us from obtaining the truth as long as we insist in holding on to it.

"Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, 'The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.' For he thought, 'For there will be peace and truth in my days.'" (Isaiah 39:8) God had just declared judgment against Israel, ye Hezekiah received it as a "good" word. He failed to grasp the gravity of the word of God because his heart was selfish and he thought only of himself.

"And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, 'Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?'" (Matt hew9:4) When we harbor evil motives in our heart we are no longer able to judge between good and evil; evil becomes good and good becomes evil. When we reason with evil motives, we always arrive at the wrong conclusions.

"The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless." (1 Corinthians 3:20) When, in our hearts we reject the knowledge of God, then our reasoning becomes futile. It is only when we open ourselves up to, and submit to, the wisdom of God can we reason effectively and grow in our knowledge, understanding, and insight.

"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11) It is the Father's will that we would grow in our knowledge and understanding and in our ability to reason well. While we are born again as a babe in Christ, we are not to stay a babe, but we are to grow up in the knowledge and love of God. At times this will mean putting away some of our childish reasonings that we might learn to reason as an adult.

"For she thought, 'If I just touch His garments, I will get well." (Mark 5:28) While the scriptures are replete with examples of how the condition of our heart can negatively impact our ability to reason well, here is an example of how a heart of faith can lead us to healing and freedom. When faced with the hopelessness of her situation, this lady reasoned with faith and, in reasoning with faith, she was not disappointed.

David Robison

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 3)

Reasoning with God

While we my often delight in reasoning with other people, God Himself invites us to reason with Him.
"'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18)
In our pursuit of knowledge and understanding, God has not left us alone to our own devices, rather He has invited us into His presence that we may gain from His understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. When faced with the profundities, quandaries, and conundrums of life, God has offers to share His answers with us.

Much of understanding is perspective. When life ceases to make sense, it is most often because we have lost a proper perspective on life. When we open ourselves up to God's perspective then things that seemed hard to understand all of a sudden become more obvious and easier to grasp. Things that are murky become clear and things that are hidden become revealed.

In one of the Psalms of Asaph, the psalmist reflects on a time when he was unable to understand what was happening around him. In his own understanding he tried to understand it, but could not. He recalls, "When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end." (Psalm 73:16-17) While he tried in his own understanding to make sense of life, it only deepened the trouble in his soul, but when he came into God's presence, his perspective changed and he began to understand what was going on around him.

One of the greatest mistakes we make in our search of knowledge and understanding is to forsake the source of all knowledge and understanding. We are quick to run to others and seek their advice, counsel, and reason, but we are slow in coming to the Lord. We want understanding, but we fail to come to the one who can give us understanding. In our reasoning, we must never forget to reason with God.

More to come... David Robison

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 2)

Reasoning with Others
"Jesus said to them, 'I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?' And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, 'If we say, "From heaven," He will say to us, "Then why did you not believe him?" But if we say, "From men," we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.' And answering Jesus, they said, 'We do not know.'" (Matthew 21:24-27)
There were many things wrong with the reasoning process used by the chief priests and the elders of the people, least of which was that they "reasoned among themselves". One of the ways we reason is in the company of other people. Reasoning with others is not always a bad idea. When Paul had a dream at night, he submitted the revelation to those who were traveling with him.
"A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." (Acts 16:9-10)
After hearing and considering the revelation, the entire party "concluded" that it was a word from the Lord and that He was calling them into Macedonia to preach the Gospel. Reasoning with others can be a good idea, the problem comes in our selection of, and the quality of, those we chose to reason with.

Rehoboam has succeeded his father Solomon as king of Israel. The people came to him and requested of him that he lighten the load and burden that his father had placed upon him. Rehoboam first turned to the elders that had served his father. Their counsel was, "If you will be kind to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." (2 Chronicles 10:7) However, Rehomoam rejected the counsel of the elders and turned instead to the counsel of the young men who had grown up with him and served him. Their counsel was, "Thus you shall say to the people who spoke to you, saying, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter for us.' Thus you shall say to them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's loins! Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'" (2 Chronicles 10:10-11) Rehoboam listened to the counsel of the young men and, as a result, the people revolted and the nation of Israel was divided.

Rehoboam's problem was that he limited the spear of people he reasoned with to those who were like him and who agreed with him. He specifically chose people who would give him the counsel he desired and who would not challenge his assumptions, conclusions, or will. We often do this in the church as well. We set up small groups around common beliefs, activities, or ministries. For example, all the prophetic people get together in one group while the teachers are in another. We separate out the young and the elderly into their own groups. We have separate groups for young parents and empty nesters. We have two Sunday services, one traditional and one charismatic, so that people can be comfortable in their own group.

When we limit our reasoning to be with others who reason like us, we can miss much of what God wants to show us. It can be likened to two groups who are studying an elephant. One group positioned in the rear and one in front of the elephant. As long as the members of each group only consider the reasoning of others in their group, they will only ever have one view of an elephant. However, if the two groups share revelation and reason between them, they will all have a more complete understanding of elephants. Elephants are multifaceted, and so is God.
"So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places." (Epheasians 3:10)
No one, by themselves, is able to fully comprehend the manifold, or multifaceted, wisdom and grace of God. However, if we are willing to listen to and consider the revelation and reasoning of others, even those who are different from us or who might disagree with us, we will be embracing a process that can lead us to a fuller understanding of God, His Kingdom, and His creation.

David Robison

Monday, September 10, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 1)

Reasoning is when we take what we already know, combine it with revelation, and arrive at some new knowledge, understanding, and insight. Revelation alone is insufficient to bring us to new understanding and knowledge. Consider what Jesus said in the parable of the sower and the seed.
"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road." (Matthew 13:19)
Jesus speaks of the one who hears the word (revelation) but fails to understand it (reason). The Greek word for "understand" means to "put together" or to "mentally comprehend". It is not enough to merely receive revelation, God wants us to "put it together"; to combine it with what we already know that we might grow in knowledge and understanding. James referred to this as "in grafting" or "implanting" the word (James 1:21). This process of bringing together both the rational and the revelatory is the heart of reason and is the process by which we grow in knowledge and understanding.

Reasoning is a process, and it is a process that is executed with various levels of success by different people. Often, the reason we arrive at wrong conclusions is not because our base knowledge or received revelation was faulty, but rather because our reasoning was flawed. Learning, understanding, and insight are limited by the quality of our reasonings.

Over the next few posts, I want to look at some of the various ways we reason and what counsel the scriptures give us as to how we reason.

More to come... David Robison

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Revelation (Part 5)

The Father
"At that very time He [Jesus] rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, 'I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.'" (Luke 10:21)
There is knowledge and information that God has hidden from the minds of men. By His own design, He has chosen to hide knowledge from those who would seek after it by their own reasoning and understanding, and He has chosen to reveal it to whomever He pleases. "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Matthew 11:27) There is knowledge that is beyond our intellect, wisdom, and imagination. This knowledge can only be obtained through revelation.

One of our greatest sources of revelation is the Father. The Father wants to reveal Himself to us and is waiting for willing vessels in which to pour His revelation into. Here are three things that the scriptures teach us about revelation from God.

First, God wants us to live a life of revelation. In praying for the church at Ephesus, Paul prayed, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." (Ephesians 1:17-19) Paul prayed that, not only would they receive revelation, but that they would have a "spirit of revelation". Revelation was suppose to be a lifestyle, a regular part of their life; part of what defined them in their spirit. Revelation was not meant for a select few, but was to be a common aspect of a normal Christian life.

Second, a revelation of the Jesus is to be the foundation of our life in Christ. Consider the revelation that Peter received. "He [Jesus] said to them, 'But who do you say that I am ?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.'" (Matthew 16:15-18) I believe that the "rock" that Jesus was referring to, upon which He was going to build His church, was the revelation that Peter had as to who Jesus was. It was to be upon this revelation that Jesus would build His church. Revelation is foundational and it should form the foundation of our relationship with God. It is one thing to have knowledge of God, but it is another to have revelation of God.

Third, the agent of revelation is the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us that there are those, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him."(1 Corinthians 2:9) Yet he also goes on to encourage us that, "to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10) The things that are hidden are revealed to us through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you." (John 16:13-15) The Father has revealed Himself to the Son, and the Son reveals the Father and Himself to us through the Spirit. The key to receiving revelation from God is in having a relationship with the Spirit. Apart from the Spirit, we cannot know God. We must draw near to Him and listen and receive His revelation.

David Robison