Faith and Facts (Part 1)

Faith and Facts I. Scripture calls on men to believe truth and NOT believe error. 1JO 4:1-6. A. Belief of a lie is an unsound faith whereas rejection of a lie is a healthy unbelief. 2TH 2:11-13. B. Therefore, Biblical faith requires the usage of one’s reason and critical faculties to discern the truth that one is to believe. C. Reason is compatible with faith. 1. Paul reasoned out of the Scriptures in an effort to persuade men to believe that Jesus is the Christ. ACT 17:2-4; 18:4. 2. Those who have no faith are UNREASONABLE. 2TH 3:2. D. Scripture requires us to prove all things. 1TH 5:21. 1. This follows an admonition to “Despise not prophesyings” (1TH 5:20). 2. However, prophesyings are to be proved. 1JO 4:1. 3. The Bereans were commended for proving the apostles. ACT 17:11. 4. Ephesus was commended for using their critical faculties. REV 2:2. 5. Truth invites scrutiny and verification! 6. True faith is not gullible: it does not blindly accept what it believes in the absence of sufficient evidence. E. The simple are gullible and therefore deceived. PRO 14:15; ROM 16:17-18. F. Sound faith rests upon facts, not fables. TIT 1:13-14; 1TI 1:3-4. 1. A fable is a fictitious narrative; a story not founded on fact. 2. That which the Christian believes is NOT a fable; it is a fact verified by eyewitnesses. 2PE 1:16. G. Faith without facts is a game of circular reasoning: what I believe is true because I believe it is true. 1. This is faith in faith rather than faith in God. 2. This focuses attention on man’s personal experience rather on God. II. God’s creation provides clear data to man’s senses proving His existence. ROM 1:19-20; PSA 19:1-3. A. A complex creation with obvious order argues for an intelligent Creator and Designer. B. The chain of cause and effect argues for a first Cause. C. If the world is the product of blind, random, impersonal forces, then it has no purpose. D. Those who worship false gods are charged with folly in rejecting the obvious fact of the invisible God. ROM 1:21-23; ISA 44:9-20. E. To deny God is to deny the evidence and thus to be a fool. PSA 14:1. III. Jesus Christ did not require men to believe in Him without evidence. A. Jesus’ works proved His claim. JOH 5:36; ACT 2:22. B. In fact, Jesus actually discouraged faith in Himself in the absence of proof. JOH 10:37-38. C. Had Jesus not proved that He was the Christ, the Jews would have been without sin in rejecting Him. JOH 15:22-25. IV. The ultimate proof that Jesus is the Christ is His resurrection from the dead. ROM 1:3-4. A. All of Jesus’ other signs hinge on the ultimate sign of His resurrection. MAT 12:38-40. B. Without the resurrection, Jesus Christ and His miracles become a lie. 1CO 15:12-18. Faith and Facts 4-29-12 Page 11. Christ abides forever. JOH 12:32-34 c/w PSA 89:4; 110:4. 2. Therefore, Jesus cannot be the Christ if He is still dead. C. There is an abundance of evidence to support faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. ACT 1:3. D. The possibility of resurrection must be granted from the evidence of God’s power in the creation. JER 32:17. 1. If God could create a living man from the dust, He can certainly raise that dust to life again. 2. If God could generate life from dust, He could certainly regenerate the uncorrupted body of Jesus Christ that never decayed toward dust after death. ACT 13:34-37. 3. Even evolutionists will grant that life came from non-living matter. Hence, they accept life from the dead. 4. (ACT 26:8) Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? E. There were numerous eyewitnesses to the risen Lord. 1CO 15:5-8. F. The historicity of other facts mentioned by the gospel writers such as the Jewish situation, the Roman rule, and geography stand unquestioned. G. Attempts to deny the resurrection break down. 1. Some say that Jesus did not actually die, He merely swooned. a. There were witnesses to His death. JOH 19:33-35; MAR 15:44-45. b. How did the weakened Jesus survive three days and three nights in a stone sepulchre bound in one hundred pounds of spices? JOH 19:39-40. c. How did the weakened Jesus roll away the stone over the door and get past the Roman guard? MAT 27:64-66. 2. Some say His disciples stole His body. MAT 28:13. a. The disciples neither understood nor believed the resurrection before it was proved to them. MAR 9:31-32; LUK 24:10-11. b. How did they get past the Roman guard to steal the body? c. Would all of the disciples so uniformly suffer what they did for something they knew was a tale of their own devising? 3. Some say that His enemies stole the body. a. His enemies had a vested interest in His body remaining in the tomb. b. Why didn’t they produce the body to discredit the apostles’ testimonies? c. Attempts to silence the resurrection were made by force, not proof! 4. Some say that a beast devoured His body. a. How did the beast get past the guard and the stone? b. A beast would have left traces of the body which would have been advanced by enemies to disprove the resurrection. c. Beasts don’t normally separate and wrap burial clothes. JOH 20:7-8. 5. Some say that the disciples were hallucinating a risen Jesus. a. It would have to have been mass hallucination. 1CO 15:5-6. b. Hallucinations are generally experienced by one who has a firm belief and high level of desire and expectation of something. The disciples neither understood nor believed in the resurrection until after it was proved to them. MAR 9:31-32; LUK 24:10-11. c. Hallucinations, etc., are generally only experienced by one sense (sight, hearing, etc.) but the disciples met, saw, heard, conversed with and touched the risen Savior. 1JO 1:1. Faith and Facts 4-29-12 Page 2H. The impact of the resurrection attests to its reality. 1. The apostles underwent a transformation after they had seen the risen Lord. 2. Time is divided at Jesus Christ. Would time be divided by the impact of a deluded fanatic? 3. The perpetual existence of the Christian faith attests to the historicity of the risen Christ. V. The gospel calls for faith in facts for which there were numerous eyewitnesses. A. The law required more than one witness for a matter to be established. JOH 8:17-18. B. The apostles constantly advanced the fact that they were witnesses of Jesus Christ. ACT 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39-41; 13:31; 1JO 1:1-3. C. The resurrection was certified by numerous eyewitnesses. 1CO 15:5-8. D. The proof of Jesus is open for inspection. ACT 26:26. E. The record of these eyewitnesses has been written so that men might have the data upon which to base their faith. JOH 20:30-31; LUK 1:1-4. 1. Our belief of the events of other history is based on the records that have been left by those who experienced that history. 2. The same applies to the history of the gospel. 3. There are numerous manuscripts of the New Testament, some of which date back to the second century after the events took place. 4. The oldest manuscript copy of the Roman historian Tacitus dates back to one thousand years after he wrote. 5. There are a thousand years between Caesar’s Gallic Wars and the oldest manuscript available. 6. Some approach the New Testament with the presupposition that all the writers lied about Jesus Christ. a. Imagine approaching a study of Napoleon Bonaparte with the presupposition that all the sources lied about him. b. Such a biased method makes the study of history impossible if consistently applied to all historical investigation. 7. The New Testament documents meet the criteria of reliable history. a. The N.T. writers were contemporaries of the times and persons of whom they wrote. b. The N.T. writers suffered for their testimony. If they were lying about Christ, it should be noted that whereas liars might make good fabulists and hypocrites, they make very unlikely martyrs. c. They record the doubts that they entertained and how they themselves accepted the facts only under the weight of the strongest evidence. VI. Based upon the evidence that is available the Christian trusts in God with respect to those things of God that he cannot see. ROM 8:24-25. A. We accept God’s account of the origin of the world though we cannot personally verify it. HEB 11:3. B. We are confident of heaven though we have never been there. 2CO 4:18. C. If we don't believe what God says about earthly things, why should we believe what He says about heavenly things? JOH 3:12. 1. If we don't accept what Scripture says about anthropology, history, geology, etc., on what basis do we accept what Scripture says about the spiritual condition of fallen Faith and Facts 4-29-12 Page 3man, the new birth, heaven, etc.? 2. If there was no actual first Adam who sinned, on what basis do you believe in the Christ as the Last Adam Who undid the damage of sin? 3. Consider the words of a leading 19 th C. antiChrist humanist, Thomas Huxley. a. In his essay 'Lights of the Church and Science', Huxley states, “I am fairly at a loss to comprehend how any one, for a moment, can doubt that Christian theology must stand or fall with the historical trustworthiness of the Jewish Scriptures. The very conception of the Messiah, or Christ, is inextricably interwoven with Jewish history; the identification of Jesus of Nazareth with that Messiah rests upon the interpretation of the passages of the Hebrew Scriptures which have no evidential value unless they possess the historical character assigned to them. If the covenant with Abraham was not made; if circumcision and sacrifices were not ordained by Jahveh; if the "ten words" were not written by God's hand on the stone tables; if Abraham is more or less a mythical hero, such as Theseus; the Story of the Deluge a fiction; that of the Fall a legend; and that of the Creation the dream of a seer; if all these definite and detailed narratives of apparently real events have no more value as history than have the stories of the regal period of Rome ― what is to be said about the Messianic doctrine, which is so much less clearly enunciated: And what about the authority of the writers of the books of the New Testament, who, on this theory, have not merely accepted flimsy fictions for solid truths, but have built the very foundations of Christian dogma upon legendary quicksands?” (Science and Hebrew Tradition, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1897, p.207) b. Huxley denied the Genesis record but saw how inconsistent it was of Christians to harmonize evolutionary ideas with it: “I confess I soon lose my way when I try to follow those who walk delicately among "types" and allegories. A certain passion for clearness forces me to ask, bluntly, whether the writer means to say that Jesus did not believe the stories in question or that he did? When Jesus spoke, as a matter of fact, that "the Flood came and destroyed them all", did he believe that the Deluge really took place, or not? It seems to me that, as the narrative mentions Noah's wife, and his sons' wives, there is good scriptural warranty for the statement that the antediluvians married and were given in marriage: and I should have thought that their eating and drinking might be assumed by the firmest believer in the literal truth of the story. Moreover, I venture to ask what sort of value, as an illustration of God's methods of dealing with sin, has an account of an event that never happened? If no Flood swept the careless people away, how is the warning of more worth than the cry of "Wolf" when there is no wolf?” (Ibid, p. 232) c. Huxley then gives us a lesson on New Testament theology. He quotes MAT 19:4-5, and then comments: “If divine authority is not here claimed for the twenty-fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis, what is the value of language? And again, I ask, if one may play fast and loose with the story of the Fall as a "type" or "allegory," what becomes of the foundation of Pauline theology?” (Ibid, p. 235-236) (1) And to substantiate this, Huxley quotes 1CO 15:21-22: “For since Faith and Facts 4-29-12 Page 4by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (2) Huxley continues, “If Adam may be held to be no more real a personage than Prometheus, and if the story of the Fall is merely an instructive "type," comparable to the profound Promethean mythos, what value has Paul's dialectic?” d. Huxley understood what many Christians refuse to concede: one must either accept the Genesis record as literal and historical or trash the Genesis record by accepting evolutionary theory and long geologic ages: the two positions are irreconcilable. 4. If we can't trust Moses' words, we have no basis for believing Jesus' words. JOH 5:46-47. C. We trust men in areas where we lack personal knowledge and experience. 1. We trust an airline pilot to fly the plane safely to our destination without ourselves learning all that he knows. 2. We trust a doctor in recommending a treatment without ourselves learning all that he knows. 3. What we know of these men encourages us to trust them in areas where we lack knowledge. 4. If we so trust men, how much more should we trust God! 1JO 5:9. VII. There is more to faith than merely seeing the evidence; seeing is not necessarily believing. A. The following passages show faith operating with sight. EXO 14:31; JOH 2:23; 6:40; 11:45; 20:8. B. However, there were those that saw the evidence of God and of Christ yet did not believe. JOH 6:36; 11:47; 12:37. C. The following passages show faith operating without sight. JOH 20:29; 2CO 5:7; HEB 11:1; 1PE 1:8. 1. These passages do not exclude the fact that faith is based on evidences. 2. Our faith rests on the evidence contained in the written record: the word of God. ROM 10:14-17; JOH 20:31. 3. We are not ourselves eyewitnesses of Biblical history, but we base our faith on the accounts of those who were eyewitnesses. D. If God were to openly speak to a crowd of men, skeptics would devise a theory to explain away the occurrence. E. There must be more than the presentation of evidence to convince a man to believe! 1. There is no shortage of evidence of a global flood yet men tend to reject the evidence because of presuppositional bias. 2PE 3:5-6. 2. The fact of bodily resurrection will not convince some to believe. LUK 16:31; JOH 12:10-11. F. Unbelief of the gospel cannot be charged to its lack of proof. 1. The proof of the gospel is such that when it is preached, Jesus Christ is EVIDENTLY set forth before the eyes of the hearers. GAL 3:1. 2. Unbelief of the gospel must be charged rather to man’s rebellious nature. 1CO 2:14; 2CO 4:3-4. 3. The man who will not believe the testimony of Jesus Christ would not believe if he actually saw Jesus Christ himself. G. A man will not believe the facts until God gives him the ability to believe. Faith and Facts 4-29-12 Page 5PHIL 1:29: JOH 6:64-65. H. It is the province of man to witness to present the facts. It is the province of God to give a man the ability to believe those facts. 2TI 2:24-26. VIII. True faith is more than merely acknowledging the evidence; it is a matter of submission to God and His will. A. Devils believe yet rebel. This is hardly a godly faith. JAM 2:19. B. Faith is not getting my way with God; it is submission to His way for me. ROM 16:26. C. Doubts arise when we try to get God to fulfill our plans instead of submitting to His will. PSA 78:18-24.

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