Can You State the Approach You Use for Discovering Truth? Just because you have never asked yourself, "What is my approach for knowing?" does not mean you don't have one. "How we know" is something philosophers have struggled with for thousands of years. They call it "epistemology" (a system for knowing). Before I knew of or reflected on my epistemology, I still had one. I was just not aware of it. It was not well thought out, nor was it biblical.
Earlier Epistemologies I Held Which I've Now Set Aside as Inadequate
- If dad said it was true, it was true.
- If my teacher said it was true, it was true.
- If my college professor said it was true, it was true.
- If science said it was true, it was true.
- If one or several double-blind studies said it was true, it was true.
- If my doctor said it was true, it was true.
- If my interpretation of the Bible said it was true, it was true.
- If reason and logic said it was true, it was true.
- If my senses told me it was true, it was true.
None of the above philosophies lines up with how the Bible tells me to discover truth, so I have laid them all aside.
Figure it out yourself! Satan offered Eve his approach for discovering truth: You don't really need these walks with God every day (in other words, you don't need revelation knowledge or direct encounter with God), for "you can know" (see Gen. 3:5). That temptation has developed into two false philosophies for knowing:
- "You" = Humanism: "Life centers in man's human capacity"
- "Know" = Rationalism: "Life centers in man's reasoning capacity"
Following is an excerpt from John G. Lake's article, The Power of the Name:
"In the beginning, man's spirit was the dominant force in the world. When he sinned, his mind became dominant. Sin dethroned the spirit and crowned the intellect. But grace is restoring the spirit to its place of dominion. When man comes to realize this, he will live in the realm of the supernatural without effort."
Rationalism and humanism are two false gods I worshipped and followed during the early years of my Christian life. However, when I learned to hear God's voice, He broke these two false gods within me (as I describe in 49 Lies and Naturally Supernatural) by training me I could trust the flow of the Holy Spirit within me, drawing upon His wisdom, revelation and in-working power. It was a tremendous battle to defeat these two false gods, as they were deeply entrenched in my life through my culture, my education, my natural disposition to be a thinker as well as my "Christian training" which taught me to work hard to keep God's laws.
Replacing spirit encounter with thinking: Basically, up to that point in time, rather than having a Christian experience, I had a mentally reasoned Christian theology which involved a lot of grunting as I sought to walk in obedience to its demands. I distrusted all emotion, all experiences (especially spiritual experiences), and all imagination, and I trusted my reason, logic and self-effort. I now realize I was living life backwards.
Satan's "truth" moves you toward Satan's character, which includes pride and accusation (Rev. 12:10; Prov. 16:18). You curse men, express bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, and seek to kill and destroy others (see James 3:9-18). So we ask ourselves, "Do I honor and respect others as Jesus did and do I minister God's grace to them (Matt. 14:14) or do I seek to destroy those with whom I disagree?"
I sought to kill! When I left Bible college, I did what Paul did when he left Bible school: I sought to destroy those who disagreed theologically with me. Being more civilized in the 20th century, I didn't pursue their physical death. I just wholeheartedly threw myself into destroying their beliefs and their theological arguments, and if necessary, their reputations and their ministries. And of course, I believed I was doing God a favor in doing so. Obviously, I too needed a Damascus road experience with the living God, which I received and wrote about in 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice.
What Does the Bible Say Is God's Method for Discovering Truth?
Original intent: daily walks in the garden! God would speak to mankind in the cool of the day and share His love, wisdom, life and insights with us. The Bible is full of stories of those who lived this way. We were to live in fellowship with Him, hearing His voice, receiving His dreams and visions, trusting and obeying Him and doing nothing out of our own initiative (John 5:19,20,30; Acts 2:17).
How Do We Get Back to the Garden? We are to die daily to "self" and to "dead works" (Gal. 2:20; 1 Cor. 15:31; Heb. 6:1,2). Dead works are things I do on my own. Live works are things birthed by the Holy Spirit, through words of wisdom and knowledge, and miracles and healings (1 Cor. 12:7-11). I am one through whom another flows. I am a vessel who contains another. I am a branch grafted into the vine. I am a temple who contains a God. Truly, it is Christ living His life out through me, rather than simply me living.
Living by the Spirit Is Restoration to the Garden Experience (Gal. 5:25). Living by the Spirit means we walk down the road of life seeing Jesus at our side (Heb. 12:1,2; Acts 2:25; Ps. 16:8), tuned to His Spirit's flow within us, and living out of this flow of thoughts and pictures (John 7:37-39).
It is simple and childlike (Matt: 18:3). It is moving from me striving and me thinking and doing things on my own initiative, to me tuned to flow with my eyes fixed on Jesus and releasing Christ out through my life.
It Is the Holy Spirit Who Leads Us Into All Truth!
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, guides you into all truth (see John 14:17; 16:13).
So the Bible is clear: it is the Holy Spirit Who will guide us into all truth. It's amazing how I had diminished the work of the indwelling, illuminating Holy Spirit and replaced His work with my mind, my theology, my brain and my understanding of Scriptures. I now set aside my false gods of humanism, rationalism and biblicism and honor what Jesus has said and modeled in Scripture. It is the Holy Spirit Who is continuing to reveal all truth to me. Everything the Holy Spirit reveals will be compatible with Scripture, even though it may not be detailed in Scripture.
Could a Non-Christian receive truth from the Holy Spirit?
Yes, the Bible is clear that God grants revelation to all (Gen. 41; Dan. 4). So I need to remain humble and meek (Matt. 5:5), and be open to learn from anyone! Remember we are to honor and love everyone (1 Pet. 2:17).
God's truth bears the fruit of His Spirit, producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22). James says God's wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle and reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy, and causes us to bless men, rather than curse them (James 3:9-18). So the question is simple: "Is what I am learning producing the above attitudes and character traits in my life?"
It doesn't need to be in the Bible: Our demand is not that something must be specifically taught in Scripture, but that things must be compatible with Scripture! Words like "Sunday school," "rapture" and "trinity" are not mentioned in the Bible, but many Christians believe in these things because they feel they are compatible with the principles within Scripture. Not everything God knows or does is recorded in the Bible (John 16:12; John 21:25).
Receiving Confirming Counsel: I experience safety in seeking out and honoring the advice of my two to three counselors or spiritual advisors (Prov. 11:14; 2 Cor. 13:1). On the flip side, the Bible nowhere instructs me to test things against my theology.
Leader's Paradigm: Explore "The Leader's Paradigm," which contains six ways God can and does speak. When seeking guidance, it is wise not to move forward in a specific direction if any of these six indicators are flashing red, saying no.
Mark Virkler, Ph.D., has authored more than 50 books in the areas of hearing God's voice and spiritual growth. He is the founder of Communion With God Ministries and Christian Leadership University (cluonline.com), where the voice of God is at the center of every learning experience. Mark has taught on developing intimacy with God and spiritual healing for 30-plus years on six continents. The message has been translated into over 40 languages, and he has helped to establish more than 250 church-centered Bible schools around the world.
This article originally appeared at cwgministries.org.
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