DUE to the discordant renderings of the English Authorized Version, my heart was not
impressed with the futility and vanity of human reasoning, although the evidence has been
before me for at least thirty years. I greatly admired the close, consistent ratiocination
of the Scripture and could not help comparing this with the reasonings of men, especially
the saints. Their manner of making deductions from the Word of God awoke me to the fact
that it was all futile. Not till then did I investigate the subject itself in the
Scriptures, and I was astonished and delighted to find that my experience was in perfect
accord with the written record. Since then I have been on the alert to see if reasoning is
ever necessary or profitable in the study of the Word, and to find a remedy to counteract
The remedy is exceedingly simple: it is faith. If we believe all of
God's Word we will not need to reason. The Scriptures the do not consist of a collection
of premises, which we must combine in order to get the truth. When reasoning is necessary,
it is done for us. I well remember, in my early youth, reading a statement to the effect
that man's highest mental effort is to extract from the Bible a system of theology, to
take the scattered fragments of truth which it contains, and build them together into the
edifice misnamed the science of God. Man is so irrational that the grotesqueness of these
systems, their irreconcilable differences, and the un-Godlike spirit they engender have
not discouraged him in his pathetic efforts. Reasoning from the Bible has done unutterably
more to discredit God's revelation than all the infidels.
This conclusion is one of the most satisfactory helps in deciding between two
antagonistic teachings. In examining any doctrine I wish to know first of all, Is it
faith, or is it inference? Is this this, or is this that? Do the Scriptures directly teach
this or is it supposed to follow from their teaching? Then if it is reasoning, the next
question is, Do the Scriptures teach this directly, or do they deny it? So far there have
been very few deductions that have not also been direct denials of plain statements in
other parts of the Scriptures.
One of the strangest phenomena among God's dear saints is the way with which they
swallow the strangest speculations, even in the very face of definite denials in the
Scriptures themselves. I have recently been asked to consider the teaching, which has
quite a following among God-fearing saints in some parts of Europe, that Jehovah is Satan.
My article, "Who is Jehovah?" was published in order to help them. In response I
was sent a list of passages which is supposed to "prove" the position. They are
these: Ester 1:13, John 10:8-10 (All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers),
15:6 (not remaining in Me...withered...cast...into fire), Hebrews 2:5 (not to messengers
does He subject the future inhabited earth), 13:8 (Jesus Christ, yesterday and today; the
same for the eons also), 13:16 (with such sacrifices God is well pleased). Not one of
these mentions or refers to Jehovah, unless we allow the name "Jesus," which is
itself evidence that Christ is Jehovah.
We will now consider those passages in the Holy Writ in which the words reason
or reasoning occur, in order to discover, if we can, what God's attitude toward it
is. The Authorized Version renders dialogizomai: cast in mind, consider,
dispute, muse, reason, and (think. Dialogismos, the noun, is disputing,
doubtful, doubting, imagination, reasoning, and thought.
It is evident that anyone one who relies on that version will live in a fog, so far as
this theme is concerned. Perhaps the most unfortunate of all is found in Romans 14:1,
"Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
It should read "discrimination of reasoning." Are not most divisions
among the Lord's people based upon this very thing? Had they known and heeded the warning
here given, that reasoning from the Scriptures is never to be a basis of fellowship, how
much heartache would have been hindered!
We will quote all of the passages in which reason is spoken of in the Greek
Scriptures as rendered in the CONCORDANT VERSION, and print them in small
type to distinguish them from our comments. In general, it will be seen that it is always
opposed to faith. In the disciples it not only reveals their lack of confidence in
Christ, but feeds their pride. When the people reasoned, they mistook John the Baptist for
the Messiah. The scribes and Pharisees are the chief reasoners. If reason were normal in
man, nothing would have been easier than for them to deduce from the Scriptures that Jesus
is the Messiah. But reason is seldom according to truth. It is almost always allied with
error. It was their chief weapon against Him Who is the Truth.
THE REASONINGS OF THE DISCIPLES
Now they reasoned among themselves, saying that "We got no
bread." Now, knowing it, Jesus said "Why are you reasoning among
yourselves, scant of faith, that you have no bread?" (Matt.16:7, 8).
And they reasoned with one another, saying that "We have no
bread!" And, knowing it, Jesus is saying to them, "Why are you reasoning
that you have no bread? Are you not yet apprehending, neither understanding?" (Mark
The disciples had forgotten to get bread. One of the premises of their syllogism was an
empty stomach, often a powerful factor in human ratiocination. How simple was their logic!
An empty stomach. No bread. Hunger. Who can find a flaw in that? But they might far more
justly have considered that He Who had fed five thousand with five cakes and two fishes,
and had twelve panniers over, needed less than nothing in order to feed them. That,
of course, would not have been reasoning, for it depended on a Factor Who was still
misunderstood by them. They manifested their unbelief. So He purposely said, "See and
take heed of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees!" What was this leaven? Had
they any of it? They had. They exhibited both hypocrisy and unbelief as soon as He warned
them against these evils.
And they came into Capernaum, and, being come into the house, He inquired of
them, "What did you reason with yourselves on the road?" Yet they were silent,
for they argued with one another on the road as to who is greater. And, being seated, He
summons the twelve and is saying to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he will be
last of all, and servant or all." And taking a little child, He stands it in their
midst, and clasping it in His arms, said to them, "Whoever should be receiving one of
such little children in My name, is receiving Me: and whoever should be receiving Me, is
not receiving Me, but Him who commissions Me" (Mark 9:33-37).
Now a reasoning entered among them, which of them should be greater. Now
Jesus, perceiving the reasoning of their hearts, getting hold of a little child,
stands it beside Himself, and said to them, "Whoever should be receiving this little
child on My name, is receiving Me, and whoever should be receiving Me is receiving Him Who
commissioned Me, for he who possesses more of littleness among you all, he is
great" (Luke 9:46-48).
Who was the greatest apostle? If they had only known of Paul! Less than the least of
all saints, not fit to be called an apostle, such was his title to greatness. None of them
measured up to this. I am sure, however, that they would not have considered him even
eligible. They had just succeeded to fail to cure the boy with the unclean spirit. Peter
and John and James would have a good argument in the fact that they were not there, but
had been chosen to accompany their Master up the holy mount. Moreover, the Lord had
solemnly charged their hearts to heed His humiliation. At such a time, when He is about to
descend into the depths, they reason (I almost hate the word!), and each one selfishly
seeks to scramble to the top! How unreasonable is such reasoning!
THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND ELDERS
And at His coming into the sanctuary, the chief priests and the elders of the
people came to Him, while teaching, saying, "By what authority are you doing these
things, and who gives you this authority?"
Now, answering, Jesus said to them, "I also shall be asking you one
word, which should you be telling me, I also shall be declaring to you by what authority I
am doing these things. The baptism of John--whence was it? Or heaven? Or of men?"
Now they reasoned with themselves, saying, "Should we be saying, `Of
Heaven,' He will be declaring to us, `Wherefore, then, do you not believe him?' Yet if we
should saying, `Of men', we are fearing the throng, for all are having John as a
prophet." And answering Jesus, they said, "We are not aware"
Here we have the flower of Israel, those best equipped for logical deduction, at the
most acute crisis in their career. Their business was to believe the sacred oracles
entrusted to them. Had they done this they would never have had recourse to reason. Christ
had cured the blind and the lame in the sanctuary before their very eyes. Not only that,
but, when the boys cried out "Hosanna to the son of David," He had pointed out
to them that David himself had foretold this in the sacred writings of which they were the
custodians (Psa.8:2). But--here was the rub--our Lord had also cast out all those buying
and selling in the sanctuary, and the brokers' tables, and the dove sellers' seats. Few
premises in an argument are as potent as a pocket book. He was interfering with their
revenue, and actually found his authority for doing so in the Scriptures. He recognized
the high station of these officials, and quoted to them the passages upon which He
After having given them God's own words as authority for His act, they come and ask,
"By what authority...who gives you this authority?" As much as to say, God's
Word is no authority. We are responsible for this sanctuary. You have not consulted
us! We do just as we wish around here, and do not recognize anyone else. So our
Lord asked them a question in order to show them how little authority they exercised, and
to bring home to them the fact that they were puppets of the people instead of
representatives of the God Whose holy Name they fearfully defame. The question was a
simple, but searching one. If they had hearkened to John the Baptist, as they, of all men,
should have done, then they would also have welcomed Him Whose forerunner he was. That is
where their unbelief began. Now they had another opportunity.
Real reasoning would have made short work of it. John's credentials were in accord with
the ancient prophets. But human reasoning is affected far more by the conclusion than by
the premises, strange as that may seem. They were caught in the horns of a dilemma. And
their vaunted reason could do nothing better than give them a most uncomfortable and
humiliating position on the fence. "We are not aware!" They did not love Him any
more for driving them into this distressing confession. It was a triumph of reason!
THE PEOPLE REASON
Now as the people were hoping and all reasoning in their hearts
concerning John, if perchance he may be the Christ, John answers, saying to all, "I,
indeed, am baptizing you with water, yet one stronger than I is coming, the thong of whose
sandals I am not competent to loose, He will be baptizing you in holy spirit and
fire, Whose winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will be scouring His threshing
floor and be gathering the grain into His barn, yet He shall burn up the chaff with
inextinguishable fire." (Luke 3:15-17).
How different was the reasoning of the people! They hoped as well as reasoned,
therefore their reasoning had enough of truth in it to be recognized and corrected.
Perhaps many of these disciples afterwards followed our Lord. Here John puts revelation in
the place of reason. They become disciples of Christ, not through a process of logical
deduction, but through faith in plain unmistakable words.
THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES
Now there were some of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in there
hearts, "Who is this talking thus? He is blaspheming! Who is able to pardon sins
except One--God?" And straightway Jesus, recognizing in His spirit that they
are reasoning thus among themselves, is saying to them, "Why are you reasoning
these things in your hearts? What is easier to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are being
pardoned,' or to be saying. `Rouse and pick up your pallet and walk?'
Now that you may be perceiving that the Son of Mankind has authority on earth to
pardon sins" (He is saying to the paralytic), "I am saying to you, Rouse, and
pick up your pallet and go into your house." And he was roused, and, straightway,
picking up the pallet, he came out in front of all, so that all were amazed and glorified
God, saying that "We never perceived it thus!" (Mark 2:6-12)
And the scribes and the Pharisees begin to reason, saying, "Who is
this who is speaking blasphemies? Who is able to pardon sins except God only?"
Now Jesus, recognizing their reasonings, answering, said to them,
"What are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to be saying, `Your
sins have been pardoned you,' Or to be saying, `Rouse and walk?'
Now that you may be perceiving that the Son of Mankind has authority on earth to
pardon sins" (He said to the paralytic) "I am saying to you, Rouse, and pick up
your cot and go into your house." And rising instantly before them, picking up that
on which he was laid, he came away into his house, glorifying God. And they were all taken
with amazement and glorified God, and are filled with fear, saying that "We perceived
paradoxes today!" (Luke 5: 21-26).
Reasoning is very sure of itself. It does not hesitate to charge the Son of God Himself
with blasphemy if He crosses its deductions. But its premises are nearly always imperfect.
Their outward senses told them that this wonder-worker was a mere man. That is where they
were wrong. He was the Mediator of God and mankind. Hence the works He did and the words
He spoke were not his but God's. True logic would have reasoned God can forgive sins, and
God was working through Him, He could also do so. The Lord seeks to bring them to this
conclusion, by showing them that His acts, if not His words, are such as God alone could
accomplish. And it is most illogical to charge with blasphemy a Man through Whom God is
manifestly blessing His people. Such a One is the Shepherd of Israel, and has authority to
THE SCRIBES AND THE SABBATH
Now it occurred on a different sabbath also, He is entering into the synagogue
and teaching. And there was a man there, and his right hand was withered. Now the scribes
and the Pharisees scrutinized Him, to see if He is curing on the sabbath, that they may be
finding an accusation against Him. Yet He had perceived their reasonings.
Now He said to the man having the withered hand, "Rouse and stand in the midst."
And rising, he stood. Now Jesus said to them, "I will be enquiring of you if it is
allowed on the sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a soul or to destroy?" And
looking about on them all, He said to the man, "stretch out your hand." Now he
does it, and his hand was restored as the other. Now they are filled with folly,
and they talked about it with one another, saying, "Whatever should they be doing to
Jesus?" (Luke 6:6-11).
The weekly Sabbath, among God's earthly people, was a type of the sabbatism which still
remains for the people of God (Hab.4:9), that is, the millennium. In that day all of
Israel's ills will be cured. Many of our Lord's miracles were done on the Sabbath for this
very reason. They were significant of the blessings which will be theirs in the thousand
years. A good logician among the scribes might have reasoned thus: When Messiah comes His
acts will be significant of times foretold in the prophets. In the great sabbatism which
God has promised, our infirmities will be healed. Therefore Messiah should heal on the
Sabbath day. But, instead of basing their syllogism on Scripture, they find their premise
in tradition, and thus were not ashamed to accuse the very One Who alone can give them a
Sabbath, of breaking it when He was displaying it! How unreasonable reason is when it is
not illuminated by revelation!
REASONING IN RESURRECTION
Now, at their speaking these things, Jesus Himself stood in their midst and is
saying to them, "Peace to you!" Yet, becoming dismayed and affrighted, they
supposed they are beholding a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you disturbed?
And wherefore are reasonings coming up in your hearts? Perceive My hands and My
feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and perceive, seeing that a spirit has not
flesh and bones according as you behold Me having." And, saying this, He exhibits to
them His hands and feet. Now, at their still disbelieving from joy, and marveling, He said
to them, "Have you any food in this place?" Now they hand Him part of a broiled
fish, and He ate before them (Luke 24:36-43).
Reason dies hard. Not only His enemies, or His disciples before His death, but even
after the resurrection unbelief began to reason. Reason cannot accept that which
transcends man. It must leave God out. The resurrection, while not unreasonable, is
certainly not to be deduced from the facts of death. He had died. His body was in the
tomb. Therefore this thing which their dazed eyes beheld must be a spirit. Our Lord
condescends to their unbelief. Will they reason from facts? Very well. Here are some.
Spirits have no flesh and bones. Therefore I must be a Man. You saw Me crucified. My feet
and my hands have holes. Therefore I am your resurrected Lord. You still think I am a
spirit. "Have you any food in this place?" Spirits cannot eat fish, as I am
doing. So He prepared them for the revelation of His resurrection He destroyed their
reasonings by showing them that their conclusion was false. It did not fit the facts.
FOR THE PRESENT ECONOMY
It is of special interest to us to learn what place reason has in Paul's epistles,
written to and for us, in this era of grace. Now that we have a full revelation, does that
make us competent, and are we encouraged to use it in the pursuit of the truth? Quite the
contrary. The word reasoning occurs five times only, and, in every case, it is
condemned. Men's reasonings became vain (Rom.1:21), we are to take the feeble in faith, not
for reasonings (Rom.14:1), the reasonings of the wise are vain (1 Cor.3:20), we are to do
all without reasonings (Phil.2:14), and men are to pray apart from anger and
reasonings (1 Tim.2:8).
THE UNREASONABLENESS OF REASONING
"Because, knowing God, they do not glorify or thank Him as God, but were
made vain in their reasoning, and their unintelligent heart is darkened. Alleging
themselves to be wise. They are made stupid,..." (Rom.1:21,22).
If, by faith, we acknowledge God's assertion that mankind has been made vain in its
reasoning, it is evident that the employment of their method of searching into God's mind
is most unreasonable. Theology has largely become learned stupidity because of it. How can
this power be restored? Only by reversing the charge "they do not glorify or thank
Him as God." It is astounding what a difference it makes in our mental processes when
we discover the deity of God, that He is Elyon, the Supreme, Elohim, the
Arbiter, Jehovah, the Lord of Time--in fact that the whole universe finds its
source in Him and is operated by Him and finds its Object in Him. He in the Major Premise
which alone can make reason reasonable; without Him it is stupidity.
When first I discovered this great truth, I thought, "Now I can reason with
profit!" And, indeed, my thought processes are unbelievably clearer and more
fruitful. But I have not found it necessary to actually reason out any teaching from God's
revelation. When I have reasoned it out, I have always found that my conclusion was
already a part of revelation, and my syllogism was needless labor. But there is untold
profit in the mental attitude which results from a recognition of God's deity. Our
impression of objects is formed largely by their background. A false theological
background gives most believers distorted impressions the plainest statements in Holy
Writ. If we view all with a great and glorious Deity behind it, not only will our
reasoning be corrected, but our conceptions will be properly focused and clarified. Let no
one attempt to reason until he glorifies God as God. And then he will not need to
do so! Man is normally intuitive. Only mortal man is a miserable reasoner.
THE REASONING OF THE WISE
"Now let no man be deluding himself. If anyone among you is presuming to be
wise in this eon, let him become stupid, that he may be becoming wise, for the wisdom of
this world is stupidity with God. For it is written, `He Who is clutching the wise in
their craftiness.' And again, `The Lord knows the wise, that they vain'" (1
It is difficult to realize that this verse does not deal with the stupid and the
ignorant, but the wise, the men who use their brains, who are "logical,"
and are able to follow a syllogism to its proper conclusion. We are not told that their
reasoning is wrong, but that it is vain. In its final aspect, it does not
get them anywhere. It fails to accomplish its object. As the wise man of old picturesquely
puts it, it is a feeding on wind. All the reasoning of all the philosophers has never
approached a solution to the great questions of existence: Whence? Why? Whither? We have
been told that unaided reason cannot do this. No, nor aided. That demands a
revelation--and then reason becomes folly.
WITHOUT MURMURING AND REASONING
"So that, my beloved, according as you always obey, not as in my presence
only, but now much rather in my absence, be carrying your own salvation into effect with
fear and trembling, for it is God who is operating in you to will as well as to work for
the sake of His delight. Be doing 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, having on the word of life, for me to glory in, in the day of Christ, that I did
not run for naught, neither that I toil for naught" (Phil.2:12-16).
Philippians gives us the highest standard of conduct. Two things seem to be special
hindrances to blamelessness, artlessness, and flawlessness. These are
inseparable--murmuring and reasoning. Faith brings contentment, joy, exultation. It needs
no syllogism for its support. But reasoning brings dissatisfaction which makes itself
manifest in murmuring. It is the firm foe of faith in daily conduct. Not merely does
reasoning lead to unsound doctrine, but it works havoc with the walk of faith. Here
whatever is not of faith is sin. And reasoning does not use faith, it demands the broken
crutch of sight. We reason from our perceptions, from appearances, little knowing what
lies beneath. Only the x-ray of faith is able to pierce the outward semblance. Here
reasoning is ruinous.
Let no one infer from this that we should act on impulse, or according to our feelings,
or in response to an imaginary voice. We cannot regulate our conduct from within. It must
be governed from without. It must be subject to God's Word. It is only as this Word dwells
in us richly that we will know its message in every matter. But I am convinced that it
does give adequate directions in every crisis and for every act. We should never be at a
loss as to our course. If we are, the fault is in ourselves, not in our instructions. A
little intelligent searching of the Word is unutterably better than futile reasoning,
which is almost sure to be controlled by the will of the flesh. Apart from instinct and
conscience, there is no guide within us. To "listen for the leadings of the
spirit" may lay you open to the domination of evil spirits. Avoid all
"surrender," or passivity. Obey only God's written revelations.
ANGER AND REASONING
"I am intending, then, that men pray in every place, lifting up benign
hands, apart from anger and reasonings" (1 Titus 2: 8).
How closely anger is associated with reasoning in this passage! Has it not been
the case that men have reasoned and not prayed, rather than prayed and not reasoned? Here
reasoning is definitely shut out.
DISCRIMINATIONS OF REASONINGS
"Now take to yourselves the feeble in faith, not for discrimination of reasonings"
This passage, dealing as it does with the question of fellowship, is of immense
importance in these days. Men have reasoned concerning church order and baptism, and
sabbath observance, and many other matters, and have refused fellowship to those who have
reasoned to other conclusions. Too often, in these days, it is the feeble in faith who
have reasoned to some discrimination, and who will not receive those who are stronger.
Fellowship should always be based on revelation, never on reason. If this were heeded it
would automatically heal most of the breaches in the church today. Instead, all efforts at
amity are based on reasonable propositions and expedience, which can produce only a formal
unification, never a vital unity.
Much that may not, at first, be considered reasoning, because it is so illogical, must
be included in the term, because it is the result of practically the same mental
processes. So-called "spiritualizing" is nothing more than a thought chain which
seeks to suit the statements of Scripture to preconceived teaching. The
"application" of passages often partakes of this prohibited sin. The
"symbolic" method of interpretation is largely the unleashed imagination of man
making the Scriptures mean almost anything. Because it seems so "spiritual"
(which, with most people, is the equivalent of hazy) and leads to such startling
results, it is very attractive, and exceedingly difficult to deal with, since its
exponents consider themselves spiritually superior to anyone who knows nothing but the
despised "letter" of the Word.
The perverted phrase "the letter killeth" has done untold damage. Not
noticing that it applies exclusively to the law, which ministered death, and has no
reference whatever to the Scriptures as a whole, it seemed to give unlimited license to
the repudiation of God's plain declarations and the substitution of man's mad imaginings
throughout the sacred volume. The inspired scrolls are not only living, but life giving.
They are made up of letters. These letters and the words they form and the thoughts they
convey are all instinct with life and impart it to all who believe them. Nothing can be
further from the truth than the repeated claim that a literal interpretation of Scripture
brings death. On the contrary, it alone imparts life. If these words are
"spiritualized" they may easily bring corruption and death. We should insist
that "all Scripture (writing) is inspired," not the indefinite ideas which men
seek to extract from them.
REASONING BRINGS FEAR
"And entering to her the messenger said, `Rejoice, O favored one! The Lord
is with you! Blessed are you among women!' Now perceiving it, she was agitated at his
word, and she reasoned what manner of salutation this may be.
"And the messenger said to her, `Fear not, Miriam, for you found favor with
God'" (Luke 1:28-30).
We have no desire to prove that Miriam, our Lord's mother, was a sinner, though that
was apparent repeatedly. Here we have one instance of it, slight as it seems. Indeed very
few would see anything wrong with her mental act if it were not for its fruit, which was
fear. No other woman ever was so signally blessed. No other member of her sex ever heard
such a marvelous message. The messenger said "Rejoice." Instead, she feared.
Faith was lacking. It was driven out by reasoning. Proper reasoning always agrees with
faith. But this is practically unknown in the things of God. The messenger did not attempt
to set her reasoning right. He simply contradicted its effect by presenting a ground for
faith. "Fear not!" When we begin to make deductions fear comes in. It cannot be
argued away. Then let us listen to His Word. We will not only believe but rejoice.
THE REASONING OF THE RICH MAN
"Now He told them a parable, saying, `The country place of a certain rich
man bears well. And he reasoned in himself, saying, "What shall I be doing, seeing
that I have nowhere to gather my fruits?" And he said, "This shall I be doing: I
will pull down my barns, and I will build greater, and there will I be gathering all my
grain and my goods. And I shall be declaring to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up
for many years. Rest, eat, drink, make merry."
"Yet God said to him, `Imprudent one! This night are they demanding your
soul from you. Now, for whom will be what you make ready?' Thus is he who is hoarding for
himself and is not rich for God" (Luke 12:16-21).
This is an excellent example of human ratiocination. Leave God and death out of it, and
no one could find a flaw in his argument. A man must rest and eat and drink, and it is
good for his soul to make merry. Is it wrong to make provision for the future? All of
these things are good in themselves. The evil lies in the independence of God which they
produce. This goes counter to the great universal premise that all is for God. He
proposed to use his goods for himself, to satiate his soul. The fact that he died that
night suggests that he had probably had more soulish stuff than was good for him already.
So God prevents him from doing himself further harm by demanding his soul from him. The
lesson our Lord draws from this parable is clear. He shows them how to reason properly.
The prime Premise is God. If our reason were perfect we would be able to deduce revelation
from a knowledge of Him. But it is not, so He has given a revelation, to make reason
needless and faith alone necessary.
REASONING LEADS TO THE CRIME OF CRIMES
"Now the lord of the vineyard said, `What shall I be doing? I shall be
sending my beloved son. Him they will be respecting equally [with me].' Now on
perceiving him, the farmers reasoned with one another, saying,' This is the enjoyer
of the allotment. Hither! We may be killing him, that the enjoyment of the allotment may
be becoming ours.' And, casting him outside of the vineyard, they kill him. What, then,
will the lord of the vineyard be doing to them? He will be coming and destroying these
farmers and will be giving the vineyard to others" (Luke 20:13- 16).
That this parable did not deal with the schemes of some criminal farmers was apparent
to the scribes and chief priests themselves, for they were in charge of God's
vineyard, and their hatred of Him was producing this very reasoning in their hearts. Let
us ponder well its bearing upon our subject. That height of human wickedness, the death of
God's Son, was not the impulsive mistake of a mob, but a deliberate deduction, by means of
definite premises. Israel belonged to God. Because they refused to recognize Him they slew
His Son. Let us remember that these men deemed the murder of God's Beloved reasonable.
Listen to the haughty words of the chief Priest: "You are aware of nothing, neither
account that it is expedient for us that one man should be dying for the sake of the
people, and the whole nation should not be destroyed" (John 11:49,50).
The cross of Christ is the conclusion of human reason. It is the combined product of
human folly and divine wisdom. But the folly was the logical issue of the ripest
ratiocination. Now real reason takes for its prime premise the presence and power of God.
But the few who realize His immanence, and are therefore capable of logical thinking, have
faith, which rules out reason. The rest cannot follow a line of thought logically, and
their efforts are empty of results.
REASON IS PARTIAL
"My brethren, be having no partialities in the faith of our Lord Jesus
Christ of glory. For if there should be entering into your synagogue a man with a gold
ring, in splendid attire, yet there should be entering a poor man also in filthy attire,
and you should be looking on the one wearing the splendid attire and be saying, `You be sitting
here in this fine seat,' and to the poor be saying, `You be standing there,' or `Be
sitting here under my footstool,' were you not discriminating among yourselves and did you
not become judges with wicked reasonings?
"Hear, my beloved brethren! Does not God choose the poor in the world, rich
in faith and enjoyers of the allotment of the kingdom which He promises to those who are
loving Him? Yet You dishonor the poor one. Are not the rich tyrannizing over you?
And they are drawing you to tribunals" (James 2:1-7).
Judgment is the act of setting wrong right. God has chosen the poor. Man prefers the
rich. How unreasonable to force this into the synagogue, which is devoted to His service.
It is wicked. Men may reason that it will be well with them if they honor those whose
favor they covet, for their own selfish ends. Their reasoning is wrong, for the rich
oppress them. They may reason that it is safe and expedient to dishonor the poor. But
present advantage is a very fleeting thing. How much more logical to honor the poor who
will be rich for a thousand years! Reason never takes God and the kingdom into account.
Therefore it is wicked and vain.
THE SOURCE OF REASONING
"Now that which is going out of the mouth is coming out of the heart, and
those are contaminating a man. For out of the heart are coming wicked reasonings,
murders, adulteries, prostitutions, thefts, false witnesses, calumnies. These are what are
contaminating a man. Now to be eating with unwashed hands is not contaminating a man"
"Yet He said that `What is going out of a man, that is contaminating the
man. For inside, out of the heart of men, are going out evil reasonings,
prostitutions, thefts, murders, adulteries, greediness, wickedness, guile, wantonness, a
wicked eye, calumny, pride, imprudence. All these wicked inside things are going out; and they
are contaminating the man'" (Mark 7:20- 23).
The idea that reasoning of any kind can contaminate a man is not easy for us to
receive. Yet here evil and wicked reasoning is given as the first of a series of sins
which are surpassing in seriousness. It is followed by murders. The list closes with
calumnies. It is surprising how many of these are the consequence of evil reasonings. It
seems to me that almost all of the slander which has come my way may be traced back to the
substitution of reason for faith. Out of the heart of mortal man, severed from living
contact with his Creator, comes the wicked and evil mental disturbances (for they are
hardly orderly enough to be graced with the name reason) which seeks to darken and
displace the revelation God has given. Men glory in being above animals in this. It is
their shame. Like the brute creation they should know by instinct, by nature, without the
ponderous and fallible process in which they delight to wallow.
REASONINGS WILL BE REVEALED
"So that the reasonings of many hearts should be revealed"
Our Lord often read the reasonings which arose in the hearts of His hearers. The day is
coming when they will all be revealed. Since Eve reasoned out that God's Word was not
true, mankind has been heeding the insinuations of Satan, and reasoning himself out of
faith in God's Word. The saint feels justified in this by the Bible itself. Take such an
article as this. Is it not unreasonable if it refuses to reason? And are we not asked to
pray to be rescued from unreasonable and wicked men? (2 Thess.3:2). So are the
saints deceived! The word here rendered unreasonable is elsewhere harm (Acts 28:6) and amiss
(Luke 23:41). It has nothing at all to do with reason. It means abnormal.
But are we not to give a reason of the hope that is in us? (1 Peter 3:15). The
word here rendered reason is the well known logos, usually translated word,
and, though it occurs about three hundred times, I do not recall that it is ever rendered
reason elsewhere. It refers to the Circumcision. They are very prone to reason. That was
their failing. Peter wants his readers to give a word (of God) or an account
of the expectation which was in them. Reasoning soon leads to debate and unbelief. Another
word mistranslated reason is dialegomai (Acts 17:2; 18:4,19; 24:25). It is
otherwise rendered dispute (Mark 9:34; Acts 17:17; 19:8,9; 24:12; Jude 9), and preach
(Acts 20:7,9), and speak (Heb.12:5). Our word dialogue comes from it. Its
meaning is argue. Then there is logizomai, account or reckon,
rendered reason once (Mark 11:31) out of about forty occurrences. It is also
translated account, conclude, count, esteem, impute, lay,
number, reckon, suppose, and think. Another word, suzeeteoo,
discuss, is rendered reason (Mark 12:28; Luke 24:15) as well as dispute,
enquire, and question. The noun, suzeeteesis, discussion, does not occur in
good Greek texts but is translated disputation (Acts 15:2), disputing (Acts 15:7) and
reasoning (Acts 28:29), in the discredited Greek text followed by the Authorized Version.
Another word, sullogizomai, reckon together, is rendered reason with,
in its one occurrence (Luke 20:5).
REASONING NOT IN THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES
For years I have been building up a vocabulary for use in translating the Hebrew and
Chaldee Scriptures, yet I have never found any use for the words reason or reasoning.
As the Authorized Version uses these on occasion, I will quote these passages and follow
them by a concordant rendering:
|| this is the reason of the levy which
|| this is the matter of the tribute which
|| and to seek out wisdom and the reason
|| And to seek wisdom and devising
|| than seven men that can render a reason
|| than seven who reply with discretion
|| my reason returned unto me
|| my knowledge is returning to me
|| I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye
|| I gave ear to your understandings
|| Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to
|| Hear now my corrections, and attend to
|| Come now and let us reason together, saith
|| Go, now, and we shall be corrected, is saying
|| I would speak...I desire to reason with God
|| I will speak...I am desiring to be corrected by the
|| Should he reason with unprofitable talk?
|| Will he correct with speech improvident?
|| I may reason with you before the Lord
|| I will enter into judgment with you before Jehovah
In no case is there any reference to reasoning in the sense in which we
are considering it.
The confusion created by these discordant renderings is the fruit of human
"reason," as opposed to faith. Faith wants God's Word. Reason wants human
approval. Faith will translate according to the facts. Reason will insist that it must be
good English. It will seek to envelop it in the sensuous halo which the unspiritual find
so agreeable. Reason definitely rejects Paul's warning concerning this era, and thus
"For the era will be when they will not tolerate sound teaching, but, their
hearing being tickled, they will heap up for themselves teachers in accord with their
own desires, and, indeed, they will be turning their hearing away from the truth and will
be turned aside to myths" (2 Tim.4:3,4).
Choose now what you will have: sonorous, sensuous, evangelical, ecclesiastical,
"reasonable" religion, or plain, spiritual, unvarnished facts, by which faith
can attain to the knowledge of God and revel in the light of His transcendent love.
REASONING AWAY REVELATION
A MOST pertinent example of the unbelief of human reasoning has just come to my notice.
From an article intended to teach the saints how to reason we take the following:
"The second form of proposition is called the `Sub contrary.' In this case,
both positive and negative may be true: they cannot, however, both be false. We must
therefore learn to distinguish these `sub contraries' from the ordinary contraries. The
formula for this proposition is "Some A is B." "Some A is not B." It
is self-evident that if some A is B then some A is not B. In Col.1. we learn that
principalities and powers are among those which have been reconciled by the cross. In
Col.2. we learn that principalities and powers were among those that were spoiled and
stripped off by the cross. To use `all' in either of these cases will be evidently untrue.
We must say:--
"Some principalities and powers were reconciled to God by the cross, and
Some principalities and powers were not reconciled to God by the cross."
"If the reader will consult the writings of those who advocate universal
reconciliation, he will discover great prominence given to the passage that occurs in
Col.1., but great reticence over the passage that occurs in Col.2."
Now anyone who will consult Col.1:16-20 will see at a glance that "principalities
and powers" are not mentioned in connection with reconciliation, but with creation.
As the Scripture uses "all" it evidently is true: the all
in the heavens and on the earth is created in Him--the visible and the invisible, whether
thrones, or dominions or sovereignties or authorities--the all has been
created through Him and for Him. "No reasoning is needed to prove the possibility of
His being the Creator of all of the "principalities and powers," including those
that He stripped off at the cross. Were not Pilate and the chief priests created through
Him? If not, through whom? Stripping off and creating are two entirely
different acts and were done at distinctly different times. Applied to creation (as it
should be) the argument leads to the denial of Christ as Creator of all.
The same confusion is apparent when this phrase is wrested from its context and applied
to reconciliation. Pure reasoning demands that "B" always refer to the same
thing and occur at the same time. But "stripping off" at the time of the
crucifixion, and "not reconciled" at the consummation, are two very different
matters, which take place in widely different eras. If we read Colossians 1:20 carefully
we will not learn that "principalities and powers" have been
reconciled. It is simply "to reconcile" apokatallaxai. It is utterly
illogical to bring this reconciliation into conflict with the stripping off. They are
complements, not opposites. If "stripping off" is taken as a sign of alienation,
that is only the necessary prerequisite for reconciliation, rather than a denial of it.
How much havoc has been wrought by ignoring the time to which a passage applies!
How much safer to believe all rather than play one against the other by illogical logic.
We therefore submit that it is infinitely better to believe God's words:
"Through Him to reconcile the all to Him," than to "reason" that it
cannot include all because "principalities and powers," of which nothing is
said, are "stripped off" at a totally different time. The reconciliation is to
come through the blood of His cross. The blood speaks of the abiding
efficacy of the Sacrifice. If the reconciliation of all had actually occurred at the
cross, then the figure of the blood would not have been introduced. The cross is the
historic occurrence in the past. The blood is the permanent sign of its power, which will
never cease to operate until the universe has been reconciled at the consummation.
An interesting experience has suggested an example which may be a great help to many in
their efforts to understand the Scriptures. I was asked, Did not Adam already have sin in
him before he transgressed? I answered, No, for it is written that through one man
sin entered, according to Romans five. But, it was objected, Romans seven shows that sin
indwells all and is brought out by law, as in Adam's case, hence Adam was a sinner before,
and the law given to him only made it apparent. To which my reply is: Romans seven does
not treat of Adam and his experience. It deals with the law of Moses and its effects on
those under it.
If we apply Romans seven to the case of Adam it becomes necessary for us to establish
the connection by means of logic. We must, first of all, establish the premise that what
is true of any man is also true of him. But this cannot be done. He is in some ways
exceptional. All other men are born. He was not. So we cannot reason that his relation to
the charge given to him by God was the same as being under the law of Moses. The law given
to him, again, was a very different one from that given to Israel. Accurate and logical
reasoning from Romans seven will not establish the proposition that Adam was a sinner
before he sinned. This is true also of many another passage which is true of mankind, but
not of its head.
Now most of God's beloved saints sincerely think that they believe God
when they reason out some "truth" in this fashion. In fact very few are
conscious that they are reasoning. In all good conscience they imagine that this is faith.
Is not the seventh of Romans inspired? Does it not explain to us how sin operates? Why can
we not apply this to Adam? The reason is that our deduction brings us into direct conflict
with Romans five and other passages which deal directly with the point, where we need only
believe God, without any intermediate thought links.
It is true that infallible reasoning would always lead us aright. It is possible to
reason to accord with the truth. But we can never be sure of this unless our deduction is
a matter of revelation. Thus, we could reason from the fact that mortality is the cause of
sin in the human race, the further fact that Adam not only did not sin, while he was not
dying, but could not sin from inward impulses alone, hence sin must come from without and through
him reach his descendants. But what have we gained? This is already contained in the word through.
One small word, accepted in faith, is better than a dozen reasons. Adam was
constituted a sinner through his disobedience, not his creation.
After I had written the article on the futility of human reasoning I received a letter
which provides concrete examples, which may help us to see how strong is the temptation to
use this method of searching the Scriptures, and how it destroys faith. These examples are
especially calculated to keep us from basing anything on negations. It seems to be an
axiom with most amateur reasoners, who do not carefully set out their premises and form a
distinct syllogism, that everything is either black or white, false or true, and there are
no gradations. They do not really reason. The serious part of it is that they have no
hesitancy in investing their own conclusions with all the sanctity of divine revelation,
while they "cannot see" the plainest passages that contradict their inferences.
How many times have letters come saying, "You cannot prove so and so from the
Scriptures." And always the language was unscripturalÄÄwhat we do not want
to "prove," from the ScripturesÄÄyet the implication was that we taught
contrary to the Scriptures. The reasoner had taken some statement of ours as one premise,
some idea of his own as another, and then "reasoned" that we teach the
remarkable result. This, of course, is not important, but it has taught us much of the
manner in which God's Book is handled. Seldom is a saint satisfied to believe what He
says. It must usually be used simply as a basis from which to reason some unscriptural
result. Extracts from the letter are printed in smaller type. One follows:
REASONING REJECTS RESURRECTION
"The Scriptures do NOT teach that ANY of the dead will be raised with
mortal corruptible or dying bodies. Revelation 20:11- 15 does NOT teach that those who
were resurrected were resurrected with dying, mortal or corruptible bodies.
"Revelation 20:10 describes the Slanderer being cast into the lake of fire
and `tormented, day and night for the eons of the eons.' (This is NOT my idea of
death--unconsciousness--so I cannot believe that anyone is, or can ever be,
tormented, if to be dead is a state of unconsciousness from which all must be
We take it that this denies that resurrection ever occurs apart from vivification, that
those, like Lazarus, who were raised in the past, have not died again and are still
living, and that those raised at the great white throne will not die again. Reasoning is
seldom very clear.
It is not clear from this whether the reasoner does not believe that the Slanderer will
be tormented, or that those cast into the lake of fire do not die. The reasoning arises
from two texts, which seem to be in conflict. The Slanderer is cast into the lake
of fire and is tormented for the eons of the eons (Rev. 20:10). This "proves"
that the lake of fire is a place of torment, not of death. Yet those who have been raised
from the dead were cast into the lake of fire as the second death (Rev.20:14). This
"proves" that there is no consciousness in the lake of fire, hence no torment.
Reason says, one or both of these statements must be false. Faith says, both are true.
Let us look at these assertions in their contexts. The Slanderer, the wild
beast, and the false prophet are superhuman. They have not died. Even the wild beast was
"cured" of his death blow, so had not been actually dead. So the lake of fire
could not be a second death to them. They had not died the first. For them
the lake of fire will be a place of torment (Rev.20:10). Let us believe this, not
reason about it. Nothing is said here of the dead who have been raised and brought into
judgment. Of them it is said, "if anyone was not found written in the scroll of life,
he was cast into the lake of fire." "This is the second deathÄÄthe lake of
fire." For these the lake of fire is not torment but death. Where is
the contradiction? In the false inferences which arise from ignoring the context! The lake
of fire is both death and torment, according to the condition of those who are cast into
REASONING REJECTS FAITH
"You say: "`This is the second death' defines the lake of fire. Those
who have been raised from death return to the same state in the second death." I say
there are NO texts to prove your statement and to teach something and yet have no
Scripture for its support is WRONG."
After seeking to show that the lake of fire is not death by a false line of reasoning,
the reasoner becomes bold and denies the facts of God's Word. I give the text, and
am told that there is none! How unreasonable is reasoning! The question of the death state
has been settled in Scripture long before. Be it what it may, the second death is
the same state as the first. I simply insist that death is death. I say that this is this.
This is not reasoning. This is faith. The Scriptures do not say that the lake of fire is
torment for those who have been resurrected. For them it is death, not the first but the
second. To call it death makes it death. Reason does not merely leave God's revelation,
but it rejects its plainest declarations, and then asks for that which stares it in the
REASONING DISTORTS TRUTH
"There are NO Scriptures which teach that the Slanderer will ever be
totally annihilated or will ever be resurrected."
We quite agree. We have never said otherwise. The implication that we teach this is not
based on what we have said, but is inferred from it. The reasoner is treating our writings
just as he treats the Scriptures! But the Scriptures do teach that God will reconcile the
universe in the heavens to Himself through the blood of Christ's cross (Col.1:20). Is it
necessary to reason that the Slanderer is a part of this? Not at all. But much reasoning
has been indulged in to prove that he is not included in it. This passage, we are assured
by reasoners, must be "understood" (!), not believed.
REASONING GRASPS AT FAULTY TRANSLATIONS
"The Scriptures teach that "as in Adam ALL are dying, thus in Christ,
also ALL will be made alive" (vivified) (1 Cor.15:22). `It is appointed unto men ONCE
to die, and after that the judgment'" (Heb.9:27).
There was a time when I was deceived as to the word once. I was told that it
meant once for all. Such works as Newberry's and The Scofield Reference
Bible (Jude 3) are "authority" for this. But they do not put this in their
margin in the twice occurrent phrase "once and again" (Phil.4:16; 1
Thess.2:18). A concordance would deliver us from the inference that it means once only.
In reasoning about this matter we have our choice. If there is a second death, then
"it is appointed unto men once to die" does not exclude it. But reason
never seems to run with faith. It far prefers inferences, which deny what God has said. It
prints ONCE! in capital letters, and interprets it contrary to definite declarations of
REASON IS IRRELEVANT
Besides, the context in Hebrews nine shows that this passage is not at all in point.
There is no reference to the "all men" of first Corinthians fifteen. It deals
only with a very few men, the chief priests in Israel, at whose death there was a
"judgment" (Num.35:22-29). It is "the men" of the context, not all
mankind. Follow out the parallel, whoever desires to reason. Let us suppose that men die
once for all and are condemned. Thus Christ, also, was offered andÄÄ? Will He be
judged? That is logical. Nay! He will be seen apart from sin, for salvation (Heb.9:28).
Reason is irrelevant. God distinctly speaks of a second death (Rev.2:11; 20:6,14;
21:8). Do not let reason rob you of this revelation. There is no passage of Scripture
which conflicts with it. If you find one that seems to do so, examine it closely and the
discrepancy will vanish.
REASON REFUSES REVELATION
"The Scriptures do not promise immortal life to any, as it is a recognized
fact that ALL mortals will get it. But the Scriptures do promise eternal (aionion) life to
"Recognized facts" are usually a rotten foundation. This one happens to be
true. Death will be abolished (1 Cor.15:26; 2 Tim. 1:10). That is solid, and worthy of our
acceptation. However, it is by no means "recognized" in Christian theology. But
the Scriptures do assign deathlessness or immortality to men. This will be ours
when we are roused incorruptible. Then this mortal shall put on immortality (1
Cor.15:53,54). This is far more than eonian life. It will endure, not only for the eons,
but without end. There is no death to deathlessness. Reason here definitely denies
THE ABRAHAMIC PROMISES REASONED AWAY
"ALL the promises made to Abraham, etc., have been all fulfilled. Our first
witness is Moses (Deut.9:5,6). Our second witness is Joshua (21:43-45): `and there failed
not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all
came to pass.' See also Joshua 23:14,15; 24:2-18). Our third witness is Nehemiah"
Triumphantly we have been challenged to give a Scripture in the New Testament for our
belief that Israel will yet obtain the land promised in the prophets. We replied that such
a passage is best found in the Hebrew Scriptures. This is the reply. We have been asked to
carefully read these passages. Without doing so we note that the all is
limited to what the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel. We believe it without
hesitation. But we do not believe that all was fulfilled which was spoken to Abraham or to
Adam, nor is there any statement to that effect in the passages of Scripture which are
All the families of the earth were not blessed (Gen.12:3). Not under Joshua, nor yet
under David or Solomon was the land possessed which was promised to Abraham and his
seed. That extends from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates
(Gen.15:18). Our reasoner proceeds:
REASON MASQUERADES AS FAITH
"Are you prepared to accept these three witnesses, Moses, Joshua and
Nehemiah? If you don't believe Joshua when he said that `there failed not aught of any
good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel: ALL CAME TO PASS,' then you
don't accept the inspired Hebrew."
I really do not care to say that I believe Moses, Joshua and Nehemiah,
for they were fallible men, but I do believe what they wrote under the inspiration of
God's spirit. But I do not believe what they did not say. All spoken to the
house of Israel came to pass. All spoken to "Abraham, etc." did not.
How promises which were given about a thousand years later "ALL CAME TO PASS"
in the time of Joshua is quite a problem which our reasoner has failed to solve. The fact
of Israel's restoration does not rest entirely on promises given to Abraham and Moses, but
on those given to the prophets. These are so full of marvelous pictures of Israel's return
to their own land that we will not even quote the lengthy passages, all of which are
ruthlessly torn from our Bibles by such reasoning as is common today. It will be a
pleasure for the reader to turn them up for himself: Isaiah 14:1; 49:13-26 Ezekiel 11:17;
20:42; 37:14,21,25, etc.
WILL MOSES ENTER THE LAND
"What is to happen to those Israelites who died in the wilderness? If you
are going to resurrect all the Israelites and put them in Palestine, what about those who,
like Moses, were not allowed to enter the Promised Land?"
The unbelievers who fell in the wilderness will not be raised when the Lord comes
(Heb.3:16-19). There seldom were many in Israel who died in faith (Heb.11). The millennial
land will easily make room for them. I was greatly impressed with its extent as compared
with "Palestine." A few hours will take you in an automobile from Haifa to
Tiberias, clear across Palestine. It will take much longer to go to Damascus. And it will
take a full twenty-four hour day of strenuous driving to cross to the Euphrates. An
enormous country was given to Abraham, compared with present Palestine. Now it can support
few. Then the dreary desert will bloom. Reason has the wrong premises here.
The Scriptures do not say that Moses shall never enter the land. The question of
his future, after death, is quite outside the scope of the narrative. We know that Moses was
in Palestine on the mount of transformation (Matt.17:3; Luke 9:30). We did not put him
there! He ought not to have come if his presence was prohibited in his own writings! How
illogical it is to reason a temporary prohibition into an eternal disbarment, when the
Scriptures themselves plainly disprove the conclusion!
"The flesh profiteth nothing" John 6:63.
Such general statements, torn from their contexts, are the delight of reasoners. Our
Lord had spoken of giving them His flesh to eat. The disciples mistook this for a literal
declaration, and were not quite prepared to become cannibals. In explanation of this
figure our Lord tells them that the eating of His flesh would be of no benefit. He had
been speaking of the partaking of His spirit, of which the flesh was only a figure.
Isolated from this context, we can "prove" that the body given our Lord was
quite useless, even though we are reconciled "by the body of His flesh"
(Col.1:22). We can "prove" that the Circumcision apostles (and Paul himself at
one time) were all wrong, because they knew Christ after the flesh (2 Cor.5:16). We
can even "prove" that our Lord Himself had an entirely wrong idea of His flesh,
for it profits nothing, and He said, "Now the Bread also, which I shall be giving for
the sake of the life of the world, is My flesh." This same word
"profit" is used in Romans 2:25. We may reason that circumcision, being in the
flesh, is of no benefit. Yet the apostle says that circumcision is of benefit under
proper circumstances. It is reasoning that profiteth nothing!
The middle wall of partition is broken down
It is the old question, "Does not God thrust away His people?" Reason says,
"Yes." Revelation says, "May it not come to that!" (Rom.11:1).
"And thus all Israel shall be saved, according as it is written" (verse 26).
"For God's graces and calling are unregretted" (verse 29). The walls, huge and
high, of the new Jerusalem have not been broken down (Rev.21:11). What is true now is no
basis for reasoning as to what will be true in the future. Never should we reason from the
day of man to the day of Jehovah, from the present secret administration of grace, where
Israel has no precedence, to the thousand years, when they reign over the nations.
"And if we be Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed and heirs according to
the promise" (Gal.3:28,29).
This is quoted to show that we are to make no distinction between Israel and the
nations. Yet the apostle Paul himself, who wrote it, always distinguished between Abraham before
circumcision, and after it. The nations are not associated with Abraham's faith after his
circumcision. The whole body of truth which is rejected by this reasoner comes in
connection with the Circumcision. It is illogical to reason about things which concern the
Circumcision, from Abraham in uncircumcision.
"There are NO Scriptures which teach that God changes...So God was in
Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Cor.5: 19). It is we who are being reconciled
unto Himself. He does NOT need reconciling to the world."
This reasoning is common among those who reject the conciliation. Usually they quote
"I am the Lord, I change not." (Mal.3:6). The Hebrew reads, I do not repeat.
In other words, I do change. But the subtle thing about this reasoning is that it
has a substratum of truth. God is always love and light and spirit. Nevertheless God
Himself said, "Esau I hate" (Rom.9:13). We cannot reason about God.
What is meant by "change?" It is not used of God in the Scriptures. It is
foolish to apply it to Him. It is far more foolish to reason from a negative position as
to what is not said about God. This is the vain reasoning (Rom.1:21) which has come
in by sin. The moment we conclude that, because God is love and does not change, therefore
He is always loving in His attitude and acts toward humanity, we find ourselves confronted
with God's own words to the contrary. The indignation of God (Rom.1:18), which He
displayed in Egypt (Rom.9:22), for which He has adapted vessels, will be let loose upon
the world in the day to come (Rev.6:17). To Babylon He will give the cup of His furious
The Scriptures distinctly state that the Uncircumcision were once "far off"
from God, while Israel was "near" (Eph.2:13-18). No intelligent reader of the
Scriptures can help seeing that God "changed" in His attitude toward mankind
when He drove out Adam from the Garden of Eden (Gen.3:24). Nor can he avoid getting a
glimpse of the fact that the nation of Israel became His peculiar people above the other
nations of the earth. They were near. The nations were kept at a distance by God Himself.
He did not allow them to enter His sanctuary. Those who came near were to be put to death
Now to the passage. "Yet all is of God, Who conciliates us to Himself through
Christ, and is giving us the dispensation of the conciliation, how that, in Christ, God
was conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing
in us the word of the conciliation" (2 Cor.5:18,19). It is insisted that this is no
"change" in God, but in men. Let us follow this out. We grant that the English
language is not as clear here as it should be, but that can be easily overcome if we will
closely consider the context and the grammar.
The word "conciliate" denotes such a course of action as should lead to
friendship, as well as the actual establishment of amity, though, in English, we also
express this by be conciliatory. The next sentence clearly shows what God did. Men
had offended Him. In order to conciliate them, He chose to ignore these offenses. Our
message is to tell men that God is not reckoning their offenses against them. This implies
a change on God's part but none on man's unless he accepts it. We may say that God
has conciliated the world, but they have not accepted it. Great Britain should have
conciliated America in 1776, but even then, the colonies might not have accepted the
overtures. If an appeal had been made to them, "Be conciliated to England," that
would have had to be based on the previous action of England in conciliating them. This
double usage of the word will not trouble us if we always watch the context.
If God is not affected by the conciliation, then we "change,"
and our dispensation consists in telling people that God has changed us, who believe. But
the passage goes on to say that God was conciliating the world to Himself, so we
really ought to tell them that they have changed! Note that this is in the past
(Greek en), and speaks of a work done in Christ on the cross. Our reasoner wishes
us to believe that the world was "changed" when Christ died. Consequently
the world must now be at peace with God! There can be no enmity between God and man, for
God, of course, has none, and mankind was changedÄÄconciliatedÄÄlong ago! A
reasoner should really reason if he is reasonable. How far this is from faith!
The passage proceeds: "We are, then, ambassadors for Christ, as God entreating
through us. We are beseeching for Christ, `Be conciliated to God!'" According to our
reasoner the world has been "changed," as God could not, and now we are sent to
this conciliated world to beseech it to be conciliated to God! I once carried coals to
Newcastle just to prove that I could do something foolish, but I would never be so far
gone as to implore one who has already been "changed" to change again! Why, then
he would be at enmity once more! Far better not to preach at all than to proclaim such a
The sober truth is that, in the present period of transcendent grace God's attitude
toward all mankind is one of utter friendliness. This cannot be the case when Israel is
His special favorite. It will not be the case when He visits the earth with sore judgments
in the time of the end. Now He is "changed." This is the very essence of the
evangel. The world is not changed. All arguments about God are futile and hide Him
and His grace from us.
Let no one imagine that these reasonings have come from one who is not sincere and
earnest and desires to know God's mind. The following shows the spirit in which they were
presented: "I sincerely trust I have made myself as clear as possible, as I feel you
are in very great error on these points and I feel most anxious for you to see the errors
you are teaching. You do not wrong me by teaching error, you wrong God." In this
reply I have not hesitated to be outspoken and severe, because the saints need to be
awakened to the seriousness of this subject. But let no one take this personally. We have
all been guilty of reasoning. Now that our attention has been called to its futility and
its enmity to faith, let us cease to reason and learn to believe.
We trust that a thoughtful reading of this article will show that reasoning arises in a
lack of faith, especially in the failure to take each text in all the implications of its
context, that its conclusions are almost always false, that it genders unbelief to such an
extent that it cannot accept the plainest declaration of God, and, finally, that it
accuses those who do believe of holding error. What is the remedy? Better reasoning? No!
More faith, and a clear conception of the character of human logic and its utter
worthlessness and harmfulness in the understanding of God's holy Word.