From the Book "The Power of the Spirit" by William Law
by David Leach
And if this be true, then nothing can be our salvation except that which brings us into a right relationship with God, making us partakers of the divine nature in such a manner and degree as we need. But to reason about life cannot communicate it to the soul, nor can a religion of rational notions and opinions logically deduced from Scripture words bring the reality of the gospel into our lives. Do we not see sinners of all sorts, and men under the power of every corrupt passion, equally zealous for such a religion? How is it then that Christian leaders spend so much time reasoning about Scripture doctrines, and yet remain so blind to the obvious fact that filling the head with right notions of Christ can never give to the heart the reality of His Spirit and life? For logical reasoning about Scripture words and doctrines will do no more to remove pride, hypocrisy, envy, or malice from the soul of man, than logical reasoning about geometry. The one leaves man as empty of the life of God in Christ as the other.
Yet the church is filled with professing Christians whose faith has never gone beyond a conviction that the words of scripture are true. They believe in the Christ of the Bible, but do not know Him personally, The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is sound doctrine to their minds, but their lives are empty of His manifest power either to overcome the power of sin within, or to convert others to Christ. Though many are zealous to preach the gospel, yet instead of bringing men to Christ, they seek to reason them into a trust in their own learned opinions about Scripture doctrines. In contrast to Paul, their gospel is in word only, without the demonstration and power of the Spirit. Nor can they see their need of the Holy Spirit to fill them with Christ, and then to overflow through them in rivers of living water to others, because reason tells them that they are sound in the letter of doctrine.
Is it not true that God must be all in all, that in Him we live and move and have our being, and that He can give us no salvation from our fallen nature but in such degree as He communicates Himself to us? Then it is known with the utmost certainty that to put a religious trust in our own reasonings about doctrines and Scripture words and our ability thus to persuade others, has a more foolish nature than the same idolatry that puts a religious trust in the sun, a departed saint, or a graven image, But the truth of the whole matter lies here: as the Word manifested in the flesh is the one mediator or restorer of union between God and man, so to seeing eyes it must be evident that nothing but this one mediatorial nature of Christ, essentially brought to life in our souls, can be our salvation. For that which made the man Christ Jesus the delight of His Father can alone be our deliverance from self and natural reason.
If a wrong use of natural reason prevents the professing Christian from experiencing the reality of the gospel, much more does the skeptic's use of reason perpetuate in himself that dreadful death to God and the kingdom of heaven which entered into the race at Adam's fall. And nothing but a faith that is willing to go beyond the limits of human reasoning can give any fallen man power to become again a son of God. For to live by faith is to live in the kingdom of God; while to believe only that which reason can verify is to live as a heathen under the power of the kingdom of darkness. Proud men may imagine that their superior reasoning abilities prevent them from being so naive as to share that simple faith of fishermen disciples, Scripture, however, declares that their "minds are darkened through the ignorance that is in them, being separated from the life of God" (Eph. 4:lB), "for Satan has blinded the minds of those who believe not" (2 Cor.4:4).
To the end of the world, this will be the unalterable difference between faith in God and reasoning about the things of God; they can never change their place. That which they were and did to the first man, that they will be and do to the last. Failure to discern the difference between a rational understanding of truth and the faith which appropriates it has brought the darkness and death of the world into the church to this day. It matters not how much the revelations and precepts of God are increased since the first simple command given to Adam, for no more is offered our reasoning faculty by the whole Bible than by that single precept. And the benefit of all Scripture is lost to us as soon as we make human reason the measure of the validity and necessity of its commands, just as the benefit of that first precept was lost in the same way. Yet an equal poverty of soul must eternally torment that man who is satisfied merely to reason about eternal life, while remaining without the real possession and power of the indwelling Son of God manifest in his daily experience.
"Hath God indeed said ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden?" (Gen. 3:1). This was the beginning of reasoning about the things of God. What it was and did then it will always be and do. Its nature and fruits will never be better nor any other to the end of the world, And though in these last ages man's natural reason has passed through all schools of quibbling and has arrived at its utmost height of art, subtlety and precision of arguments; yet as to divine matters it stands just where it stood when it first learned that specious logic from the serpent which improved the understanding of Eve at the cost of cutting her off from her Creator. And at this day it can see no deeper into the things of God, can be no wiser, give no better judgment about them, than the conclusion which it first made; namely, that death could not be in a tree which was "so good for food, so pleasant to behold, and so much to be desired for knowledge"(Gen. 3:6).
God does not demand a faith that is unreasonable-but He does demand a faith that goes beyond the limits of human reason. And thus there is a point where faith and reason divide the human race into two kinds of men fully distinct from each other. The faithful through every age are the children of God, and sure heirs of His redemption through Jesus Christ. Those who trust in reason alone are of the seed of the serpent, and real heirs of that confusion which happened to the first builders of the tower of Babel. To live by faith is to be truly and fully in covenant with God; to reject that which reason cannot verify is to be merely and solely in compact with ourselves, with our own vanity and blindness, and with Satan who first led the race into this sad state.
To live by faith is to live in humility, in patience, longsuffering, obedience, resignation, absolute trust and dependence upon God, with all that is temporal and earthly under our feet, To oppose the gospel by reasoning is to be a prey of the old serpent, eating dust with him, groveling in the mire of earthly passions, devoured with pride, embittered with envy and regrets, tools and dupes of our carnal self, tossed up with false hopes, cast down with vain fears, slaves to all the good and evil things of this world. So likewise does that man resist the Spirit who reasons in favor of the gospel and thinks thereby to gain eternal life.