The online publication The Apostolic Faith (http://www.apostolicministries.net/azusa/azusa_09.html) contains a "testimonial" by George Berg of Los Angeles, California. He begins by saying, "When I first attended these Apostolic Faith meetings, I was very much puzzled because I tried to understand it with my head only, ..." Many people caught up in Pentecostalism seem to have this attitude toward their religious beliefs. It doesn't matter what the Bible says; what matters is how they feel. When pressed to give "book, chapter, and verse" for their teaching, many denominationalists will often reply, "I just believe that is so." Even some brethren have been known to say they can't explain a seeming contradiction; they just take it "by faith" as if faith is unreasonable.
Did Paul expect people to accept his teaching based on reason, or did he expect people to accept it even though it was unreasonable? Acts 17:2 states, "Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures." In verse 17 of the same chapter, it says, "Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there." In the very next chapter we can continue to read, "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks" (Acts. 18:4). Once again in that chapter, Luke records, "And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews" (Acts 18:19). Later as he stood before Felix, Paul "reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, 'Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.'" (Acts 24:25).
The word translated "reasoned" in these verses comes from the word dialegomai and is defined by Strong as "to say thoroughly, i.e. discuss (in argument or exhortation)." Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, also makes an interesting comment about this word and Paul's practice. He wrote that dialegomai was "an old verb in the active to select, distinguish, then to revolve in the mind, to converse (interchange of ideas), then to teach in the Socratic ('dialectic') method of question and answer (cf. dielegeto in Acts 17:17), then simply to discourse, but always with the idea of intellectual stimulus. With these Jews and God-fearers Paul appealed to the Scriptures as text and basis apo of his ideas." Paul was expecting these folks to use their brains or their intellects to weigh what he had said and to determine whether it was true or not. He was not just appealing to the emotions of his audience.
Jesus appealed to logic in His discussions with His adversaries. For example, notice His answer to the Sadducees in Matthew 23:29-32. "Jesus answered and said to them, 'You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.'"
We do not serve an unreasonable God. Faith is not a "leap in the dark." It is based on the reasonable word of God. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Don't be found reasoning against reason! -2004 Little Stream Run, Owensboro, Kentucky 42303-1891, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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