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History and Faith

March 13, 2018

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain,” (1 Cor. 15:14, ESV).

Alistair Begg spoke about the importance of the resurrection on his radio program yesterday. This passage is extremely important due to the anti-factual, and anti-intellectual, tendencies that can exist in our culture and in our churches. Neo-orthodox theologians have long proposed the idea that all that really matters in the Christian faith is one’s subjective experience, and not historical facts. There has been an emphasis on someone personally experiencing Christ, and a deemphasis on doctrine and history.

This passage is extremely important for tying together one’s faith with real, verifiable historical events. Paul teaches us that one’s subjective faith is more than useless if it was not grounded in the actual historical events of the resurrection. Of course, if Christ was raised, then He must have died. This was also reported, in historical terms, by Paul in the beginning of chapter 15. Paul said:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me,” (1 Cor. 15:3-8, ESV).

For Paul, subjective faith could not be separated from objective truth. Do not let anyone convince you that Christianity is more about experience than truth, or subjectivity over objectivity. The Gospel is about subjectively believing in the objective facts. It is about believing the truth. One cannot be saved without both.

This is why we are encouraged to grow in grace and in our knowledge of God (2 Pet. 3:18). As Peter said in the beginning of his second letter, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,” (2 Pet. 1:5). Faith grows with knowledge. Our subjective appreciation of, and peace in, the beauty of our God grow as we better understand the facts concerning His being and His work. Notice also, that Peter encourages us to, “make every effort,” to grow in this way. Again, the emphasis on subjectivity over objectivity has had the tendency to make us feel like we will not have to put in any effort to grow in our faith. But reading the Bible consistently takes effort, listening to sermons and lectures with an active mind takes effort, and reading books by great theologians can be hard work. But to this we have been called. If we want to grow in our subjective faith in our Holy God, then we must grow in our understanding of the objective truths about Him.

May God establish us in these truths. May we never believe the untrue efforts of people who try to minimize the objective truth of Christianity. May we grow in our faith in the truth of who God is.

From → Theology

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