by A.E. Knoch

Part One

THE spirit of God, through His word, has been powerfully impressing me with the thought that I can be of great service to His saints by exposing the reasonings which are robbing them of His revelation. The transcendent truth which we have recovered from His word is not only being opposed by mistranslations, but by inferences founded partly on Scripture, but chiefly on human philosophy and speculation. I had noted this fact, and had pointed out some defective syllogisms, thinking that the cure lay in teaching the saints to reason logically. But I found that the logic was seldom so much at fault as the premises on which it was based. My next idea was to correct these. Then I had occasion to Study the word "reasoning" in a concordance, and was surprised and delighted to find that the spirit of God never commends reasoning, but often condemns it. This has been hid from us by the great variety of renderings which dialogismos has in our common version. It is translated thoughts (Matt.15:19; Mark 7:21; Luke 2:35; 5:22; 6:8; 9:47; 24:38; 1 Cor.3:20; James 2:4), imaginations (Rom.1:21), doubtful (Rom.14:1), disputings (Phil.2:14), doubting (Tim.2:8) as well as reasoning (Luke 9:46). It is always much better thus. They have rendered the verb reason (Matt.16:7,8; 21:25; Mark 2:6; 8:8; 8:16,17; Luke 5:21, 22; 20:14) and dispute (Mark 9:33), cast in mind (Luke 1: 29), muse (Luke 3:15), thought (Luke 12:17), and consider (John 11: 50). If the Concordant Version had done nothing else than straighten out this tangle, it were worth while.

It will be noted that the verb is used only in the accounts of our Lord's life to denote the faulty thought processes of the disciples. The Greek verb dialogizomai never enters Paul's epistles, yet has occupied the center of the stage in Christian theology. The noun is there, indeed, five times, the number of human weakness, and each one is a warning against its use. Romans opens with a reference to those who do not glorify God as God, who "were vain in their reasonings, and their unintelligent heart is darkened" (Rom.1:21). It commences the practical portion with a mental renewal (12:2) and warns us not to take to ourselves the feeble in faith for "discriminations of reasonings" (Rom.14:1). Yet this very practice is the basis of fellowship today. If I were to apply for membership in a religious organization I would not be asked if I believed God, but if I reasoned to the same discriminations as the body in question. Corinthians also strikes at the whole polity of Christendom. "The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are vain" (1 Cor.3:20). Who believes this? I imagine that few who have read the passage saw its point. Read it again. Not the reasonings of unlearned fools. The reasoning of men of knowledge and discretion. The reasonings of the WISE!

The only occurrence in the prison epistles is a prohibition. "Do all without murmuring and reasoning, in order that you should be becoming blameless and artless, children of God, flawless, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you are appearing as luminaries in the world..." (Phil.2:14, 15). It is evident from this that reasoning is quite unnecessary if we wish to enlighten the world. Flawlessness is not based on logic. Blamelessness goes with artlessness. We are to believe, not to reason. The highest reason, the most logical deduction, is faith in God. The last occurrence in Paul's epistles is especially applicable today. "Apart from anger and reasonings" (1 Tim.2:8). Reasoning leads to differences and these bring on strife.

But we have found that very few saints realize that they are reasoning. They imagine they are believing. Only a day or two ago I received a letter in which the writer protests that he bases all on the Scriptures. Yet the only passages he produced for his faith were misquoted and did not refer to the point in question at all! He had certain interpretations in his mind which seemed to form a logical connection, that was all. This is not faith! Anyone can "prove" his position by the Bible. How few can say, "I believe, God!"

It will, therefore, be necessary to give examples of human reasoning from time to time, in order to expose their fallacy. To do this in a gracious manner will require a special enduement of God's spirit. We hope to so sicken the saints of reasonings that we will rid ourselves of this pernicious habit and train ourselves to believe God's bare word as it stands.

A concrete example will help to convey our meaning. Glory is ascribed to God for the eons of the eons (Gal.1:5). This, it is claimed, proves that the phrase "the eons of the eons," is endless. The syllogism may be stated thus:

God's glory is endless.
All time periods used of it must be endless.
Therefore, "the eons of the eons" are endless.

Consider this carefully. The first statement is doubtless true, but it is not Scripture. It is an appeal to the best possible motive, the glory of God, hence it creates the powerful prejudice which is needed to carry over the idea. One who opposes it seems to deny God's glory. The second statement is absolutely false. Such premises are seldom stated, but consist of insinuations which must be dragged into the light and exposed. In this case it is only implied. Glory may be ascribed to God at any time. Peter gives Him glory now (2 Peter 3:18). It is evident that this is not for ever, for he adds "and for the day of the eon." Moreover, even this latter phrase cannot be endless, for it speaks of a single eon. Therefore, glory may be ascribed to God for a limited period. Hence "the eons of the eons" are not necessarily endless. This phrase is always associated with evil and rule, which are confined to the eons. Hence the glory is eonian, being related to God's purpose in the eons. The glory He will have after the eons is not within the scope of the passages in which the phrase occurs. This is the vain reasoning of the wise.

Shall we oppose it by reasoning? Never. It is unnecessary. All that this reasoning is intended to do is to disprove that God will be All in all. Simply believe what God has said. It is not even necessary to reason that all means all. Those who reason about it try to prove that all does not mean all. Back of all of this reasoning is the mental disqualification which results from apostasy from the great fundamental of fundamentals--that God is God. There can be no sound, sane syllogism on this subject unless we first believe that all is out of Him and through Him and for Him. Then we will not resort to reason! Then we will want to worship!

Part Two

THE recognition and glorification of God as God is the basic qualification for the mental apprehension of truth. In the measure in which we deny His divinity or devise a dual deity our minds will falter and we will fail to grasp God's revelation of Himself, either in nature or in His Word. Those who do not hold to the recognition of God become mentally disqualified (Rom.1:28). Those who do not laud and thank Him as God have no proper premise for logical reasoning. Their deductions are vain and their heart is dark.

The basis of all sane and satisfactory thinking is the great truth that all is out of God, and through God, and for God. If you deny this, the foundation of a sound mental structure is lacking. It will affect all of your thought processes. This it is which afflicts the wise men of today. They are building castles in the air. Evolution goes back, back--to nowhere. The further back it goes, the more inexplicable is the riddle of creation, which it succeeds in shelving instead of solving. It is far easier to account for creation as it is today than involute in a primordial germ. The moment we learn that God is the source of all, reason reigns and revelation explains.

The same is true when we begin to realize that all is through God. The present perplexing chaos is not resolved by the injection of another God to account for its evil. This explanation has been current for millenniums, but it has paralyzed reason and darkened intelligence. It denies that all came out of God and that all is for Him. With a God in the background Who is operating the universe in accord with the counsel of His own will, we can gaze upon the seeming inextricable maze and see the outlines of His grand purpose shaping to His glorious end.

That all is for God is the most potent mental medicine which has ever been manufactured. It is not too much to say that the only rational reaction to orthodoxy is insanity. No human mind dares to use its full functions to face the future as it is usually set forth. That way madness lies for those who have the mental equipment to rationalize and realize its awful implications. A God Who will lose the greater part of His creatures is hardly a safe sheet anchor in the storms to come. If He could not save all, He may lose all. There are no halfway measures with absolute deity. But when we know that all the-- losing as well as the saving--is of Him, then we may also rejoice that, when the process of revealing Himself has been accomplished through sin and sorrow and suffering, then He will have all for Himself, as He has said.

We merely mention this great truth because we desire to devote considerable space to the mind, as connected with God's revelation. Emotion has largely displaced mind in many quarters. The fact that the learned are largely apostate has prejudiced us against mental processes. We do not see that it is the lack of sound mental principles which is misleading the learned. God does not denounce mental exercise. Transformation, by mental renewal, is the first step in walking with Him (Rom.12:2). We are beginning to realize that we can be of more help to the saints in directing mental methods than in correcting the errors to which false reasoning gives rise.

We wish to emphasize one point, which our readers can confirm for themselves by means of a concordance. Reasoning is never commended in the Scriptures. We are to believe God, not to make deductions from His words after they have been combined with our own error. The latter has become almost universal. This accounts for so many divergent "interpretations." There is no cure for the present distress apart from a vigorous mental grasp of the word of God and a smashing attack on the false mental processes by means of which "truth" has become an antonym of the Scriptures. We call for an exposure of every teaching that masks as truth, that is reasoned from the Scriptures, yet fails to accord with its microscopic accuracy.

The arguments against the truth we teach are multiplying so rapidly that it is impossible to answer them all in detail. Nor is this necessary, for they all have this in common: they are based on reasoning from the Scriptures, instead of implicit belief in God. They usually are a form of syllogism, in which one of the premises is not fully expressed, in order that the conclusion may seem to be Scriptural. All that is necessary is to clearly state the premises, and the illusion vanishes. We wish to show our readers how to meet these objections for themselves, and especially to forestall the objections of those who are honestly desirous of the truth, yet are mentally misled by the error which they hold, and on which they base their thinking.

Too many of the saints are not open to this salutary mental readjustment. They are impatient of "syllogisms" and "premises." These names should not stumble us. We are constantly making syllogisms and using premises in our thinking. Is it not well that we should give them a handle, so that we may control them? Most reasoning is done in the dark. If we wished to thread a needle, and the blinds were drawn, we would stop to raise them. This is what we hope to do. Let us never reason without throwing a searchlight on our premises, to see if they are true. They very seldom are. The result will be that we will reason less and less, and believe more and more.

No better example can be given than the passage to which we have already referred. All is out of, and through, and for God. Nothing is more reasonable, yet how unnecessary to prove it! All that human reason, in its present plight can do, is to seek to disprove it. Yet the moment that is attempted, mental retribution operates to disqualify the mind of the reasoner. He seeks to limit it by inserting the word "good." All good is of God, but evil is not! This flies in the face of the context, for it concerns God's repudiation of Israel and the locking of all in stubbornness. This is the opening wedge for the final deification of the devil and the dethronement of the deity. Reason leads to darkness. It is most unreasonable in the face of revelation. Let us test all attempts at logic, and reject every conclusion that makes the slightest discord with the minutest element of the sacred originals.

Since my earliest fellowship with God's people I have been rebuked for what was then called "head knowledge." Lately it has been strikingly stated thus: "Paul worked with his hands, not with his head." It is distinctly disconcerting to be called to task for this failing of mine. I cannot help it. It is inherited, in part. I have never learned to think with any other member of my body. When I came to know God I gloried in the fact that He had not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim.1:7). I am somewhat dubious about Paul. Easily the most intellectual of all the inspired writers, I have taken it for granted that he was not averse to moderate mental exercise.

But I wish to assure my objectors that I also work with my hands. For most of the years of my ministry I made my living with my hands (though not to the entire exclusion of my brains). I am a printer. Quite a little of the mechanical work on the magazine and our other work is done by me. Perhaps I ought to say that my writing is done by my hands. Even Paul did not do that!

I am being continually classed with the Scribes of our Lord's day, because they knew the letter of the Scriptures. But our Lord did not denounce them on that account! It is no crime to know exactly what God has said! It is no proof of apostasy! Alas! how many are sheltering themselves behind a comfortable and lazy ignorance! How many practically reject God's written revelation by claiming to have a special enduement which enables them to know the truth without the labor and toil of recovering it in the Scriptures! I confess that I am compelled to study and investigate and search and continually readjust myself to God's living oracles. Many claim to be more fortunate. But, as they differ among themselves, only one can be right. None can be right!

Interpretation, in these degenerate days, has become almost wholly inference. Even inference is too strong a term. It is assumption, supposition. It rests chiefly on the fact that modern minds are so muddled, that any relationship of thought is mistaken for reasoning. It seems that, while we may not use our minds in sound and sensible inquiry, it is perfectly proper to use them in unsound speculation. It is quite right to formulate a theory and appeal to passages which have hardly a remote relation to the subject. It is quite commendable to propose a series of propositions, which convey a hazy impression and suggest a conclusion which clashes with clear statements of God's word!

We have need that God should keep our minds or apprehensions as well as our hearts, in Christ Jesus (Phil.4:7). Satan is blinding the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor.4:4). Paul prays that we may apprehend, or mind (it is the same word), his knowledge. Our Lord rebuked his disciples repeatedly because they did not mind, or apprehend, His words (Matt.15:17; 16:9,11; Mark 8:17; John 12:40).

The relative importance of the mind in the present administration may be gathered from the frequency of the occurrence of nous, MIND. It occurs only once before (Luke 24: 45) and twice after Paul's epistles (Rev.13:18; 17:9), but over twenty times in the course of his letters. These are so suggestive and helpful for those who imagine that the mind is a hindrance to spirituality that we give all of them herewith.

One of the most solemn passages in the prison epistles refers to the mental state, the comprehension, or through-mind, of unbelievers. Their comprehension is darkened (Eph.4:18). Shall we be like them? Because mental keenness is not of itself sufficient to give us the knowledge of God, shall we glory in stupidity and denseness? Peter, who is generally supposed to have been an "ignorant" man, exhorts his readers to gird up the loins of their comprehension (1 Pet.1:13). Surely, we cannot do less, for Paul, we feel sure, used his feet to walk, his hands to work, but his mind to think.

Our transformation is effected by the renewing of our minds (Rom.12:2). Those who always want to be "practical" are usually impatient of doctrine and stress deportment. Mental renewal is a prime necessity if we wish to please God. Only thus can we know His will. This is not confined to Romans. It is amplified in Ephesians. The only way to put off the old humanity is to be rejuvenated in the spirit of our minds (Eph.4:23). The last occurrences are very searching, as they seem to apply with special force to these days. We read of men of a decadent mind (1 Tim. 6:5). Let us not boast in this as some are doing. Those who withstand the truth are of a depraved mind, disqualified for the faith (2 Tim 3:8). Are we in this class? It is only as we humbly acknowledge the prevalence of these dire conditions, and the possibility that we also may be tinged with them, that we have any assurance that we are qualified to grasp God's revelation of Himself.


Luke 24:45   Then He opened up their mind to understand the scriptures
Rom. 1:28   God gives them over to a disqualified mind.
7:23    warring with the law of my mind
7:25   with the mind am slaving for God's law,
11:34   For who knows the mind of the Lord?
12: 2   by the renewing of your mind,
14: 5   fully assured in his own mind.
1 Cor. 1:10   to the same mind and of the same opinion
2:16   did anyone know the mind of the Lord? --
yet we have the mind of Christ.
14:14   yet my mind is unfruitful.
14:15   be praying with the mind also. --
be playing with the mind also.
15:19   speak five words with my mind
Eph. 4:17   in the vanity of their mind,
4:23   be rejuvenated in the spirit of your mind,
Phil. 4: 7   being superior to every mental state,
Col. 2:18   affectedly puffed up by fleshly mind
2 Thess. 2: 2   not quickly shaken from your mind,
1 Tim. 6: 5   altercations of men of a decadent mind
2 Tim. 3: 8   men of a depraved mind
Titus 1:15   But their mind as well as conscience has been defiled
Rev. 3:18   Let him who has a mind calculate the number .
17: 9   Here is the mind which hath wisdom

Though not in Paul's epistles, the first occurrence is most suggestive, in this connection. The disciples had been with our Lord, yet had failed to grasp the vital points in His message. In resurrection He meets them again and works a special miracle to enable them to understand the Scriptures. What does He do? What part of them does He affect? He opens their mind (Luke 24:45). This is what is needed today. Let us not ignore or disparage the mind. It is the only medium through which we can understand God's word.

God gives over those who refuse to recognize Him to a disqualified mind (Rom.1:28). This is basic and important. The vanity of the world's wisdom lies in the fact that it excludes God. The truth of any system of theology is in direct ratio to its recognition of Him. Do you wish to have a mind qualified to enter into God's revelation? Then believe this simple statement: "All is out of Him and through Him and for Him." This is the only rational foundation for all mental processes. Deny this, in any degree, and your mind will suffer. This is the great premise from which alone sane conclusions may be drawn. It is the only proposition which can heal the mental mystification of God's saints. All who deny this are lost in futility and mental fog.

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