Science in Christian Perspective



More Than Five Senses
Professor of Psychiatry
Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

From: JASA 5 (March 1953): 12-14.

Do you know that you have another set of eyes and ears? That you can sense other things than those in the world around you? The Bible tells us so. In fact, one must be careful in reading the Bible to distinguish between these two sets of senses. For instance, are you looking unto Jesus, as a Christian should? That does not mean looking with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of the heart.

The sense organs of the body are those with which we perceive the things that are in the world (I Jn. 2:15, 16). The lust of the flesh must have an object out there in the environment. The lust of the eyes is covetousness and also must have an object out there in the world.

Perceiving then in this way with the eyes of the body, we gather information from the book of nature, which is God's common revelation of Himself. If such information is gathered by an exact method, we call it scientific. All information gathered by the bodily senses is called empirical and such information can be said to be empirically demonstrable. In fact, we use such empirical gathering of knowledge when we read the Bible, which is God's special revelation.

However, we should not get the idea that the eyes of the heart (Eph. 1:18, Williams) are any less real nor that they give light on things less significant. The inner set of senses constitutes a genuine reality even though they are not composed of molecules. Think of the "heart" here as the center of your personality the real you inside, Le., your soul. This constitutes an example of earthly things being used to explain heavenly things (Jn. 3:12) because that is the way human minds can understand them. These eyes lie dormant and unused until God opens the heart in regeneration, and sets it aglow. The eyes of the heart, therefore, are those that are involved in gaining insights that are above and beyond the empirical and the mundane.

The Bible context usually reveals which eyes are meant. The mind works upon the data gathered by our bodily senses and, in characteristically human fashion, there is produced that fund of information which we call common sense. Only human beings can do this. Animals may find the use of their bodily senses necessary, and even life-saving on occasion, but no beast ever builds up its own common sense. Not even a horse is ever able to construct "horse sense".

Let us consider a diagram to show these things. The knowledge which we gain through our senses is limited. This is the empirical area at the center. All that lies outside this circle may thus be labeled "supraempirical", and its extent is limitless. But God promises to reveal to His people some of these things. This, then, is the revealed area (Deut. 29:29). The limitless area outside the revealed is known by no man.

When the Lord was here bodily upon earth, the eyes of the body could look upon Him, in a manner no longer possible in this age. For instance, Luke said that they "were eyewitnesses of the Word" (Luke 1:2). They could actually see Jesus with their physical eyes. Even so, many saw Him and yet were not saved, because knowledge of God must come not through our physical senses, but from what God reveals.

Likewise the Apostle John said: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life" (I Jn. 1:1), He is here describing the physical perception of Christ by the sensations of the body.

Some, like doubting Thomas, place too much stress upon these empirical perceptions. He had to see and feel the nailprints in the hands of the risen Saviour before he would believe. But he was told: "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

We are told that hope that is seen with the physical eyes, is not real hope (Rom. 8:24). The Blessed Hope must rest on the seeing function of these inner eyes.

No man hath seen God the Father at any time (John 1:18). The nearest approach to gazing upon God is to look at Jesus. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).

Things that are seen with the eyes of the body are temporary. Eternal things are invisible to these eyes (II Cor. 4:18). The things that are seen with physical eyes come from those which are unseen (Heb. 11:3).

The Lord told the disciples of John the Baptist to return to the prison and tell John the things which they had seen and heard (Luke 7:22). "How that the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised." These were actual physical events which they could report to John. In fact, the messengers themselves may have sensed these things only as physical miracles. The Lord knew that John would catch the deeper meaning in his heart. He would see in Christ's message the figures and symbols of Salvation and he would recognize the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy from Isaiah 61:1, 2.

Peter declared at Pentecost: "He hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear (Acts 2:33). These things could be empirically sensed with the physical sense organs, but they were the direct working of the Holy Spirit in human hearts. Only the child of God, whose inner eyes had been enlightened could catch these deeper meanings. There were many in that crowd, however, who went home unsaved because the natural man receiveth not ithe things of the Spirit of God, in spite of all evidence (I Cor. 2:14).

Jesus was talking to his followers when He said "Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye, see." It was their physical sense organs that saw these miracles that He was working, but these disciples were seeing more. Through their inner eyes, they were being enlightened spiritually as well.

In Luke 17:20, Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation". In other words, it does not come as an empirically demonstrable event. Observation is the method we use when we learn through the physical senses. When the Son of Man is to be again observable on earth, He will come like lightning (Luke 17:24).

Now as we turn to consideration of the eyes of the heart, let us note that it is not at all difficult to determine from the context which set of sense organs are intended. Jesus mourned because the city of Jerusalem was unable to receive the benefits of her peace, for they were hid from her eyes (Luke 19:42). Jerusalem did not receive Him and therefore the eyes of her heart remained blind. II.Cor. 4:4 says that it is the god of this world that blinds the minds of them that believe not.

The Emmaus disciples had their eyes "holden" by Christ for a special purpose, but when He "brake bread", their eyes were opened (Luke 24:16, 31). Note that this could refer to both or either sets of eyes. Later the same day, He appeared to the disciples and opened their understanding. They were given new perception through the eyes of their hearts (Luke 24:45). Note that this was not merely new instruction and new learning through physical eyes, but it was actually a new kind of perception. The purpose was that they might understand the Scriptures. A man unsaved may read the Word and get meaning, narrative and history, but only the enlightened may see the things that we see in it. Again and again, Jesus said: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." "Let these things sink down into your ears." Here again are the ears of the heart.

Romans 10:14, 15 tells something about how salvation comes. A preacher, who is a sent man, and who walks with grace (beautiful feet), comes bearing good tidings. The unsaved listen with the ears of the body, but they do not really hear the Gospel unless it sinks down into the ears of the heart. As a result, they believe and call upon the Lord and are saved.

But how does one believe? What is faith? Faith is not mere hunch, a leap in the dark, without basis. Faith is evidence. Faith is absolute evidence and proof of things not seen with the physical eyes (Heb. 11:1). Our faith is featured by seeing Him Who is invisible to physical eyes (Heb. 11:27). Faith is the use and functioning of the eyes of the heart. The basis of salvation is that we must believe that He exists (Heb. 11:6) without seeing Him with the eyes of the body. It is not just guessing and hoping. It has the most certain proof that there is when those inner eyes are open. Faith, then is a look to Jesus so that He Who is the Light of the World can enlighten our lives. Then we can say "Amen" which means "I believe". Saving faith is that initial faith which is featured by "a life for a look at the Crucified One". "Whom having not seen, ye, love" U Pet. 1:8). In other words, we love One whom we have not seen with physical eyes. "But we see Jesus ... crowned with glory" (Heb. 2:9). Psalm 34:5 furnishes us with a picture of the initial salvation of a person through faith. "They looked unto Him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed.

We should not think that these inner eyes and other sensations are any less real than what we experience in the body. Indeed, these inner eyes see things that are more real and more lasting GI Cor. 4:18). They show us a portion of reality which has real being, even though hid from our natural eyes.

Jesus said that He knew and testified of what He had seen and heard (John 3:11). These heavenly things are vastly more genuine than we, or any other earthly thing (John 3:12). We should also emphasize that these inner sensations give us new data of the nature of perception, and that they are not concepts or thinking. Neither should we confuse them with the little dialogues which frequently go on within our consciousness. The Pharisee in Luke 7:39, spake within himself, saying certain critical things about the Lord. This was merely the course of thought in a man unsaved and unregenerate, but Jesus could read these thoughts through the function of His inner senses. Neither in this case, dare we say that this was Extra-Sensory Perception. Rather, it was His omniscience.

There may be some question as to whether Satan is able to make men see things with the eyes of the heart. If he is, they are lying signs, and not true reality. A man under the influence of alcohol may see pink elephants and green snakes, but they are not really there. The alcoholic, however, believes that he sees these things with the eyes of his body, and this is probably true. However, even the unsaved will be using those inner eyes in the next life, because that is all that he will have left to use while he is absent from his body. Remember the rich man in Luke 16:23. "He lifted up his eyes in hell." There can be no doubt which eyes are here involved.

'Me child of God ought constantly to be exercising his inner eyes. They should be kept "looking unto Jesus" (Heb. 12:2; Ps. 141:8; 11 Chron. 20:12).

Other sensations of these inner eyes are sometimes mentioned. '10 taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps. 34:8). This passage is narrowed to the use of the age of grace in I Pet. 2:3; "0 taste and see that the Lord is gracious." Likewise, Jesus tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). Also the sweet-smelling savour of the old-time sacrifices becomes in New Testament terms an inner spiritual sensation.

Not only does man possess this inner set of senses for perceiving spiritual things. These constitute a candle unlighted until he be regenerated. Then they begin to shed light upon an entirely new realm of reality, the divine revelation of these things God wants man to know Adam had this lighted candle, but the light went out when he fell, and since then man has perceived only natural things, and that by empirical methods only.

Angels and demons have this light, since they do not carry bodies around with them. In Luke 4:34, the demon knew who Jesus was far better than men did, and he also knew his own ultimate fate. Satan couldn't hide from Jesus, even in His human life, for both had their spiritual senses in working order. Thus we see the setting of the temptation in the wilderness. The entire encounter Was conducted above the level of the natural. Jesus has all His inner sensation, for He is Light. Even in human form, He retained His omniscience (which means the same thing). Nothing is hid from Him.

We as regenerate men, can know only in part and when we see Him face to face, we shall not even then have the infinity of omniscience. We will merely know all there is to be known about our inner heart condition, for the Light will be upon us.

If there are such phenomena as E. S. P., as men claim, perhaps we should relate them to these spiritual senses which have no bodily sense organs. They are merely bits of His omniscience which He reveals to us as we look unto the Light. But if unrelated to His written Word, we should take warning. Satanic forces can also reveal great, but limited, knowledge in the case of mediums, soothsayers and fortune tellers.

Thus we see the importance of these perceptions in the heart. They involve the spirit of the regenerated man, as the candle of the Lord (Prov. 20:27). They involve all of revelation, including revelation to the ancient prophets, illumination to us through the Spirit-enlightened Word of God. And they involve all the problems of inspiration.

The heart, then, has inner functions which are similar to our physical senses. The activities of these inner senses bring us new information which is analogous to perception, not to conception or reasoning. It opens up a whole new world of reality, of heaven, paradise, supernatural things, open only to the believer. These additional sensations begin to function when we are born again. If a man die unsaved, they begin to function in hell. where men are necessarily removed from their bodies.

Let us indicate this warning note. The believer should see and hear these things only in relation to the inspired Word of God. Any spiritual information obtained in any other way should be viewed with suspicion. It may be Satanically derived or it may be a personal wish arising within the heart.