“All truth is given by revelation, either general or special, and it must be received by reason. Reason is the God-given means for discovering the truth that God discloses, whether in his world or his Word. While God wants to reach the heart with truth, he does not bypass the mind.” ― Jonathan Edwards
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” (Proverbs 2:1-8).
The mind is the starting point of our faith. Unless we can process the truth of the Gospel, we can’t believe. All else follows what we think about the revelation of God. Simply said, as an adult with rational capabilities, we can only put our trust in that which our mind comprehends and accepts as truth:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).
This is not to say we understand all things related to God and His Word, but the implication is that we understand the fundamentals of the Gospel – God’s plan for bridging the gap between our sin and His holiness through faith (saving belief) in the sacrifice of Christ.
And we at least get a glimpse of its ramifications for our life.
The seeds of God’s transforming truth must be planted in the soil of our minds and its fruit is the acceptance of the veracity of what He has spoken. This intellectual assent, combined with surrendered trust in Jesus, is fundamental in being born again.
To see the importance of knowledge, I urge you to thoughtfully read Paul’s description of the inexcusability of man before God in Romans 1:18-32 and look for words that allude to activities of the mind. Let me give you some hints:
- “suppress the truth”
- “shown it to them”
- “[His] attributes…have been clearly perceived”
- “they knew God”
- “they became futile in their thinking”
- “wise, they became fools”
- “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie”
Here we see the unwillingness of our mind to accept God’s revelation of Himself in both His creation and our conscience condemns us (see also Romans 2). Correspondingly, our willingness to accept and receive God’s revelation of Himself through faith in God’s ultimate Word, Jesus, frees us from that same condemnation.
But our thinking is not to stop with understanding the Gospel and receiving Jesus’ good news through saving faith. Yes, the Greek word for “believe” strongly suggests trust, but since both belief and trust are first an act of the mind, it makes sense that we continue to use our minds, to think on God’s transforming truth. Paul tells the church at Rome: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). And he admonished his pupil Timothy to, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7).
We are called to use the rational capabilities (our thinking) God has given us to glorify Him. Although He is not an academic pursuit alone, He gave us a brain that we might use it in such a fashion that His ways are reflected in our lives. I’m reminded of A.W. Tozer’s thought that there is nothing more important than what one thinks about God.
Now that we’ve talked about how our following Jesus is first a matter of the “head” (thinking), it is also a matter of the “heart” (loving). In the next post we are going to discuss how loving God with all of our mind causes us to love Him and others with all of our heart.
*This is the 1st post in a series of 4 designed to explain how following Christ affects our thinking, loving, and doing (head, heart, and hands).