Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Honest Reasoning


History is filled with subjectivist intellectual movements that claimed special intuitive insights and questioned the quest for systems of rational truth that could be shared by all human beings. In recent years, certain academic disciplines—particularly literary criticism and some other areas of the humanities and social sciences—have been influenced by a subjectivist movement called ‘postmodernism’…Postmodernism…often denies the possibility or desirability of establishing any objective truths and shared cultural standards” (Christian Primitivism in the Twenty-first Century, David Edwin Harrell, Jr., pp. 25,26). One common challenge that Christians face in our time is the rumor that it is impossible for all honest men and women to see the Bible alike, that the combination of honest human reasoning and Scripture will only result in division and that absolute truths do not exist. Yet the Bible says otherwise.


Jesus and Honest Reasoning


Jesus repeatedly taught that the honest person with the Scriptures would find not the truth “for them”, but “the truth”, the only truth that exists:


  • Matthew 7:21: In this verse Jesus states that not only can the will of the Father be known and understood but it can equally be applied.

  • Matthew 13:23: In this verse Jesus teaches that an honest and good heart can understand God’s word and live according to it.

  • John 5:39 “Search the Scriptures; for in them yet think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me”: Here Jesus points people to the Scriptures; the verse infers that the person who searches the Scriptures can find an accurate answer.

  • John 8:31-32 “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. Those who set apart as holy Jesus’ teaching from all the other teachings in the world are those who understand it, actually know the truth, and abide, that is, remain within the parameters that such teaching.

  • John 7:17 “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself”: Here Jesus teaches that the willingness to do God’s will is the essential attitude in being able to tell the difference between human opinion and divine revelation. Notice the emphasis on he shall know. Jesus is absolutely certain that people who really want to know the truth, shall find it.


The Apostles and Honest Reasoning


  • Acts 17:11 “ Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so”. Many people can look into the Scriptures together and find the same answer; the Scriptures with an honest heart (“noble-minded”) form the most effective way of determining what is true (“to see whether these things were so”). Thus, honest reasoning and the Scriptures are the team that helps each man and woman in seeing “what is so” or what is true.

  • Ephesians 3:4 “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ”.

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:10 “They did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved”.

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth”


Jesus’ Method of Interpretation


On a number of occasions, Jesus addressed hermeneutical questions in a non-technical, common sense manner” (Harrell p. 33).


The Question


  • Luke 10:25 “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’”


All of life is about asking questions and getting answers. Many of our questions are frivolous, or have no certain answer (do I look better in blue or brown?), but others are critically important. The lawyer who encountered Jesus in Luke 10:25 asked a transparently important question, although he seemingly was not interested in knowing the answer. What follows is a hermeneutical exchange about how to find the answer to a good question” (p. 33).


The Answer


  • Luke 10:26 “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?”


If you want to know what behavior God expects of you, Jesus answers, you need to read His instructions. Jesus says admitting the Scriptures are God’s instructions; His word is clear on such important questions and it can be universally understood. Indeed, the quick and concise answer the lawyer gives (10:27) immediately proves the Law was clear and understandable.


The Problem


  • Luke 10:28 “Do this, and you will live”:


The problem with truth is not interpretation or necessarily finding it, the lawyer’s problem did not rest with hermeneutics or the science of how to interpret; his problem was not knowing, but doing.


The Unbelievers Dilemma


  • Luke 10:29 “But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor’?”


Surely, it is not that easy. Such tidy reasoning often restricts our conduct in personally undesirable ways. So, the lawyer replies, such rational appeals to evidence must surely be blurred by the inexactness of words and our ability to communicate precise meanings. What does ‘neighbor’ mean? It sounds good to say we must do what the Scriptures teach, but can we really understand?” (Harrell p. 34). Observe that the lawyer is not impressed by such a clear answer; today we encounter people who complain the commands the Bible gives are too simplistic or do not fit every situation. The lawyer may have thought such, especially in reference to the word “neighbor”, i.e., “Surely God does not expect me to love all my neighbors!”


The Answer (Luke 10:30-37)


  • It is a clear and simple answer, one that all human beings would understand.

  • It is not a technical answer with all sorts of exceptions.

  • Once again, Jesus reaffirms that the problem men encounter with truth is not that of knowing it, but doing it.

  • Even though Scripture is the final say and not “common sense” we need to be impressed with how often God’s truth is just that, “common sense” which all fair-minded individuals would concede. It did not take a genius to figure out who proved to be the neighbor in Luke 10:36-37. In like manner, one did not have to be an expert in the Law of Moses or a theologian to perceive that John the Baptist was a prophet, the common people could easily see this (Matthew 21:26).


Luke 10:21


I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes”


It is noteworthy that this verse precedes the interaction between Jesus and the lawyer. The verse is not teaching that God is trying to hide His truth from people, for His desire is to see all men saved (2 Peter 3:9). Yet, the “wise and intelligent” by human standards often miss God’s truth because:


  • Like the lawyer they cannot believe that truth is so simple.

  • Like the lawyer they find the truth is inconvenient for the lifestyle they want to live (they want to be able to exclude certain individuals from the neighbor category).

  • They do not like the fact that truth does not bend and that God’s laws are not surrounded with all sorts of exceptions to the point but instead want to believe that the verse really does not apply to anyone today.

  • They often are looking for a shrewd way of appearing to be righteous without “doing” the will of the Father.

  • They have a problem with submission, and instead turn their wisdom into cunning, and attempt to form sophisticated arguments to get around various verses.

  • They have bought into the erroneous idea that learned and sophisticated individuals do not take the Bible literally.