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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 25

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. He continues with more on the 4th of these:

4. Reasonable. Impressions from above are always in harmony with a spiritually enlightened judgment. God has given us reasoning powers for a purpose, and He respects them, appeals to them, and all of His leadings are in unison with them. He will bring up all the facts in the case in such a way as to convince that His leadings are all in harmony with sanctified common sense. Indeed, when the first three tests above mentioned are met, reason can but accept the conclusions which they bring.

I have a friend who was frightened from receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, because Satan kept suggesting to her that if she did she would have to do absurd and unreasonable things. He "impressed" her that she ought to go and preach at a political meeting, talk religion to every one she met on the street and everywhere, and do kindred unreasonable things. He made her believe that these impressions came from God instead of him, and thus fearfully perplexed her. Satan took the fact that we are to do good "as we have Opportunity," and with it sought to compel her to force opportunities. An appeal to this test would have defeated him. God never requires an unreasonable thing. He invites us to "reason" with Him, and appeals to our judgments that His service is a "reasonable service."

God deals with us as with rational beings, and it is a consequence of that recognition of our rationality that He does not require us to act upon sudden suggestions or impressions, even if the come from Himself without our first subjecting them to the scrutiny of reason.

"Try all things," wrote John Wesley, "by the written Word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of enthusiasm [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain literal meaning of any text taken in connection with the context. And so you are if you despise or lightly esteem reason, knowledge, or human learning, every one of which is an excellent gift of God, and may serve the noblest purposes."

The Holy Spirit is our divinely appointed guide. We are to be led by Him. He speaks directly to our hearts and also through the four mediums mentioned. He never contradicts Himself. So there is always perfect harmony between His inward impressions and these four voices.

No impression should be acted on as from above which does not clearly meet these tests.

God never asks us to act on uncertainties.

To do so is a spiritual crime. "He that doubteth is damned if he eat," and this principle prescribes the doing of anything concerning the rightfulness of which there is doubt.

Impressions from above always meet all four of the above tests, and every impression which is doubtful should be rigidly and prayerfully tried by each.

If Scriptural, right, providential and reasonable, they may be taken as God's voice, and followed as confidently as the angel brought to earth the tidings of our Savior's birth. Otherwise impressions should be firmly rejected ere they lead into folly, fanaticism and final ruin.

Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

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