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The Flight from Reason

The Flight from Reason
By T. A. McMahon

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD…” Isaiah:1:18

This is an amazing verse! In it we see our infinite God desiring to reason with His finite, created beings. Not only are they incapable and insufficient (in their own ability as finite beings) to reason with their infinite Creator, but they are also in a condition of rebellion against Him. Their iniquity notwithstanding, pointing out that they are far beneath His “reasoning” class is undeniable. That is certainly reflected in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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.”

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Also, Romans 11:33: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”

How can any of us reason with God? Unlike the animals, He created us with the ability to reason! But how does that fit with Isaiah 1:18? Given God’s infinite intelligence, it can’t mean that He’s looking to us for our input. Not at all! He is giving us information that He wants us to consider and act upon. We are told that Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden. That fellowship involved communication and included commands that Adam understood and was therefore to obey: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Notice that God gave Adam a reason for obeying His command. The consequence of disobedience would be death. Adam however, reasoned otherwise, and thus sin entered God’s perfect creation.

The Isaiah 1:18 verse continues: “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (verses 18-20). The verses that follow have God setting forth the reasons for what will take place regarding those who choose to either obey Him or disobey Him. Furthermore, God’s reasons for them to consider also point toward the gospel and eternal salvation, the acceptance of which will save them from their sins, and the rejection of which includes both temporal and everlasting destruction.

When I find a word in Scripture of which I desire to have a better understanding, my first go-to resource is Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. The “reason” for that is because many of his definitions are drawn from the way they are used in the King James Version of the Bible. Most contemporary dictionaries lack that scriptural perspective and some even reveal an overt prejudice against a biblical Christian worldview.

One of Webster’s definitions of “reason” gives an insight into what Isaiah 1:18-20 declares: “to reason one into a belief of truth; to reason one out of his [own futile] plan….” God’s reasonings are not of the “you tell Me your ideas” variety. They inform us of the truth regarding what will take place based upon the choices we make. As noted, obedience produces blessings, but disobedience ends in destruction (verse 20). God’s reasons are absolute truth.

Webster also cites 1 Peter 3:15 as an example of the way believers are to use reason in defending and sharing their faith: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Sadly, that is a rare event in Christianity today, even among those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians. One of the reasons biblical answers are uncommon among Christians is related to the prophecy given in 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Rather than looking to God’s Word for His reasons that are spelled out clearly through “sound doctrine,” they are turning elsewhere for spiritual understanding. Quite often that involves a dependence upon pastors to tell them the meaning of the Scriptures (which amounts to being spoon fed—i.e., given so much help or information that they do not need to think for themselves). Such a dependence not only hinders spiritual growth, but it also undermines the belief in the authority and the sufficiency of the Word of God itself.

If we are turning to someone to tell us what the Bible is saying, then the Bible ceases to become our authority. Instead, that person becomes our authority. Our dependence upon a pastor or a popular Christian author or a so-called Christian psychologist to give us answers not only denies the authority of Scripture, but it rejects its sufficiency. Is God’s Word our authority? The Apostle Paul wrote, “…the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). Jesus declared in John 17:17: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

But is God’s Word sufficient? Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, assures us: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). If the Word of God is not sufficient, to whom should we go regarding “all things that pertain to life and godliness”? Peter answered that question in response to Jesus, “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). The Apostle Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

It’s not that a brother or sister-in-the-Lord can’t help us in our knowledge of the Bible and our walk with Jesus, but it becomes a serious problem when our faith develops into a dependency upon them. Then it’s not our faith! The Lord holds all of us personally accountable for what we believe. I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of working with and learning from Dave Hunt for nearly four decades — yet he never spoon fed me. When I had questions, more often than not he would have me search the Scriptures in order to know what I believe and why I believe it.

Knowing what you believe but not knowing why is at the heart of one’s fleeing from reason. Certainly, a believer in Jesus Christ needs to know what he believes about salvation in order to be saved. However, that knowledge is rarely helpful in convincing non-believers of the reasons a believer has for committing his life to the Lord and thereby receiving God’s gift of eternal life. Dave Hunt tells of when he preached a sermon addressing why biblical faith must be based on reason and proof. Following his message, a number of people came to him saying that if one has proof, wouldn’t that eliminate the need for faith? Dave’s response was to question their understanding of biblical faith, which is not a leap in the dark — i.e., a belief with no substantial support.

The Word of God, for example, points us to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That event, the most significant and glorious in history, was not presented in the Scriptures as an incident that was to be accepted by blind faith. On the contrary, in referring to the resurrection activities, Luke writes in Acts 1:3, “To whom also he [Jesus] shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” What were some of those faith-encouraging “infallible proofs”? For one thing, He proved to His disciples through His physical appearance that He wasn’t a ghost or a mirage: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” You would think their faith would have galvanized through both the appearance and the convincing words of Jesus! But that wasn’t enough: “And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:39, 41-43). Again, Jesus gave them further “proof.” He also gave them reasons from the Scriptures to believe that He was resurrected from the dead: “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44).

The point here is that the Bible documents what it declares with irrefutable reasons and “many infallible proofs.” These laid the foundation for belief that enables born-again Christians to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” That foundation is necessary and it gives believers confidence to accept by faith that which our finite minds cannot comprehend! For example, there are good reasons why God must consist of three Persons, yet that truth of God’s Word is beyond our ability to grasp with the mind and can only be professed by faith — a faith built on the groundwork of infallible proofs and reasons. To that we could add the truth of God creating all things out of nothing, and the belief that God has always existed. These are totally faith issues, which Dave points out: “So, faith does encompass some things that are beyond my ability to prove or to fully comprehend, but it only takes that step in the direction that the evidence has pointed and after having been given sufficient evidence to warrant such a step.”

Reasoning regarding the truth of Scripture is fading quickly in our day, when the “spiritual correctness” of ecumenism reigns and “friendship evangelism” is preferred over correcting erroneous beliefs of our lost friends. What then of Paul’s ongoing evangelistic approach: “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures”; “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks”; “And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews”; “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee”; “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 17:2; 18:4, 19; 24:25; 19:8).

Our day is well into a flight from reason. When one rejects or slips away from God’s Word, he is left with his own irrational ways and means to solve his problems (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). That has never worked, a fact to which history attests. Yet that failure hasn’t deterred humanity. On the contrary, man’s vain attempts are increasing exponentially. Reason has been hijacked and transformed by mysticism. When things can’t be fixed in any practical sense, the shift is to the subjective, the imagination, the illusory, the wishful. Feelings become the hopeful guide to fulfilling one’s expectations — which are never realized. That condition eliminates reason as a way of turning someone from their erroneous beliefs. Such conversations almost always end up with, “I hear what you’re saying, but I’m sorry, I just don’t feel that way.” When one’s hope is bound up in feelings, objective reasoning is dead.

That will be Satan’s modus operandi in ushering in the religion and kingdom of the Antichrist. The “feelings” orientation eliminates any sense of guilt, any sense of being judged or of being wrong. How can one’s feelings be determined as “wrong”? The person himself becomes the arbiter of truth (“Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth”). It’s only a slight variation of Satan’s offer to Eve: “…ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The person himself becomes a “god,” which is the lie that began in heaven with Lucifer’s self-exaltation (Isaiah 14:13-14) and is the ambition of the Antichrist and all who choose to follow him.

The flight from reason is a trip into utter darkness and separation forever from God, the One who so loves us that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the full penalty for our sins and offers us the gift of eternal life with Him.

TBC

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