(All scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible)
One of the gifts that God has given man is the ability to reason. Man can use this ability in valid or invalid ways to reach valid or invalid conclusions. In order to arrive at spiritual truths, man must use his reasoning in a Biblical manner. God also uses those who have the ability to reason in a Biblical manner to help others understand truth.
The word “reason” and variations of this word (such as “reasoned”, “reasoning”, and “reasonable”) are frequently found in God’s word. This is one indication of how important reasoning is in God’s eyes.
In Webster’s 1828 dictionary, one of the definitions for “reason” is:
“A faculty of the mind by which it distinguishes truth from falsehood, and good from evil, and which enables the possessor to deduce inferences from facts or from propositions.”
In my opinion, this is a satisfactory definition as far as it goes, but Biblical reasoning goes further than this. Biblical reasoning is not merely intellectual - it requires the leading of the Holy Spirit and the application of simple faith.
In the Bible, there are many words in the original languages that are translated “reason” (or some form of this word). Some of the other renderings of these same original-language words are:
“understanding”, “knowledge”, “muse”, “think”, “consider”,
“judge”, “reprove”, “rebuke”, and “correct”.
All of these renderings help me obtain a broader understanding of what reasoning is in a Biblical sense. In God’s word, reasoning involves a careful thought process. I also understand that reasoning and judgement are very closely related.
Biblical reasoning is dependent upon simple faith in God’s word
In order to exercise Biblical reasoning, we must have faith in God’s word. This is true simply because Biblical reasoning is based upon rightly understanding and applying God’s word. If you lack confidence in God’s word, then understanding
and applying it becomes elusive at best. I invite you to read “The Trial of God’s Word” which is my testimony of how God brought me to complete confidence in his written word.
When people do not accept God’s words by simple faith, this often leads to the kind of reasoning that may be stimulating as an intellectual exercise (or may be very frustrating to one who is sincerely seeking the truth) but which is incapable of producing a conclusion in which full confidence can be placed.
And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
Faith is substantive and evidential:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Biblical reasoning and judgement are inseparable
Every child of God is responsible for judging between spiritual truth and spiritual error.
Jesus instructed people to judge righteously:
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Jesus rebuked the hypocrites for not judging righteously:
Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
Paul told the Corinthians to judge what he said:
I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
I Corinthians 10:15
We use our God-given reasoning to make these spiritual judgements. Biblical reasoning is not based upon the mere appearance of things, nor is it based upon human opinion or assumption. It is based upon settled facts. For the Bible believer, many of these facts are simply those things that are written plainly within God’s word.
God invites us to reason with him
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Like Job, we should desire to reason with God
Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.
We are to use reasoning to help others come to God’s truths
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
I Peter 3:15
Like Elihu, we should consider the reasoning of other believers before reaching a conclusion
Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.
Like Elihu, after careful consideration we should reject false reasoning
Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words:
Biblical reasoning takes work.
Those who don’t work at it often think they are wiser than those who do.
The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.
Biblical reasoning teaches us how to serve God
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Biblical reasoning is practical
Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Biblical reasoning is persuasive
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
False reasoning can be associated with pride
Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
Sometimes people use false reasoning to avoid the truth
And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
Little faith can lead to foolish reasoning
And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Bad hearts can lead to bad reasoning
When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
Biblical reasoning leads to certainty
Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.