Open to reason

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)

Some believe that if they have heard from God then they can bypass checking their views against the Scriptures or the accountability of spiritual authority in the church. Others believe that fresh revelation from heaven no longer occurs for the self-same reasons. They are both wrong.

God still sends wisdom down from above, but this wisdom has certain hallmarks on it, characteristics by which we can recognise it as genuine. One of these hallmarks is that genuine revelation is always open to reason.

"Hold on", you may say, "surely if God has spoken that is the end of the matter. There is no room for discussion, and no need for reasoning. To think otherwise is to rob God of his authority."

Well, that's true. If God has spoken then that is the end of the matter. God cannot lie, and his word never returns to him void, so if he said something we can have absolute confidence that he will do it, no matter what anyone else thinks. Let God be true and every man a liar.

"But haven't you just contradicted yourself?"

It may seem that way. But this is precisely where so many go so badly wrong. Although God's revelation has absolute authority, our perception of that revelation does not. No-one has perfect 20-20 spiritual vision; we all see as in a mirror darkly; we only get a part of the puzzle. God has given us an inbuilt dependence on each other, and a need for accountability, because no one man sees it all! The Holy Spirit recognises this, because it is he who distributed the gifts amongst the body according to his will. So he will never bring his revelation to a man in a way that shrinks from the advice or authority of others in the body.

Genuine revelation has nothing to hide from Scriptural investigation, for God will never contradict his written word. Nor does it fear the advice of others, for God never speaks to a man in isolation, he speaks to his church. Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses is every matter to be established. The Spirit will never violate the kingdom principles of the body that he himself puts in place.

When a man sets his doctrine or decisions upon revelation that is not willing to be tested in this way, he leaves himself wide open for deception and error.


SLW said...

Excellent word, Chris. I may have to cite this sometime-- it's cogent and accurate.

AmeriKan said...

Chris, superiorally and skillfully elocuted. Were a man(men) to adhere to such wisdom, fewer problems and heartaches would he face. It is, as well, a lifelong process.

Matthew said...

I like it Chris! In Isaiah 1:18 god says "come now let us reason together". But God's reason, as you say, it the reasoning of scripture not the reasoning of the enlightenment! "though your sins are like scarlet they shall be white as snow" - I like that kind of miraculous sin-busting reasoning, and that we have such as reasonable God!