3
Mar

God and Rational Faith


God has consistently dealt
with mankind in rational ways, providing the evidence needed
for a reasonable faith. He’s always ensured that enough
evidence was available for open-minded, honest hearted
people to know that He exists. According to Romans 1:20,
“Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead,
so that they are without excuse.” Since the time of Adam and Eve,
mankind has been able to clearly see how the things that are made testify
on behalf of a powerful, invisible Creator. As the psalmist proclaimed, “The heavens declare
the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech
and night and unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language
where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth.
And their words to the end of the world.” The reason why the fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God,” is because God has always given man adequate evidence for His existence,
though many have ignored it or dismissed it. When the prophet Samuel addressed
the nation of Israel at Saul’s coronation he didn’t merely deliver an
emotionally based speech. He commanded them saying, “Stand still
that I may reason with you before the Lord.” Consider also the stark contrast
between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In hopes of getting the attention
of the bogus god Baal, these emotionally charged, pretend
prophets leaped about the altar, “Cried aloud and cut themselves
as was their custom with knives and lances until the blood
gushed out on them,” all for not. Elijah, on the other hand, had a rational faith
that was grounded in the word of God. He said to God, “I have done
all these things at Your word.” His personal faith as well as the message of faith
that he preached were rooted and grounded in the heavenly revealed,
rational word of Almighty God. Biblical faith after all, “Comes by hearing
and hearing by the Word of God.” This same kind of rational evidence-based faith
and preaching can be found in the New Testament. Consider the actions and teachings of Jesus. He could have merely announced
to the world that He was the Messiah. He could have only told people
that He was the son of God. He could have expected everyone simply
to believe His claims that He was heaven-sent and never given His contemporaries
any proof for His deity. However, even though there
were occasions when Jesus chose not to offer
additional proof of His deity because of the hard-heartedness
of many of His hearers, Jesus understood the
essentiality of evidence. During His earthly ministry,
He repeatedly gave ample proof as deity. He noted how John the Baptizer
bore witness on His behalf. He said, “The Father Himself
who sent Me has testified of Me.” He spoke of how the Scriptures testify of Me
and specifically noted how Moses wrote about Me. He also noted how His miraculous
works bore witness to His deity. Jesus performed many miracles that demonstrated
His power over nature, disease, demons, and death. He understood that His verbal testimony alone
would not convince anyone in a court of law. Thus at the feast of dedication in Jerusalem,
He told the unbelieving Jews, “If I do not do the works
of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me,
believe the works that you may know and believe that the Father
is in Me and I in Him.” Sadly, His enemies repeatedly
rejected the irrefutable evidence that Jesus presented on His behalf. Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus presented
for His divinity was His miraculous resurrection. He could have risen from the dead
and never appeared to anyone on earth. He could have departed from the tomb
and allowed speculation to run wild. Christianity could have begun
on the back of uncertainty and mysticism. Instead, Jesus was declared to be
the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. He appeared alive to Mary Magdalene,
to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the apostles, to James
and to over 500 disciples at once, most of whom were still living and could be
questioned several years later when Paul– who also witnessed the risen Savior–
wrote 1st Corinthians. Jesus presented Himself alive after
His suffering by many infallible proofs because He is the head
of a reasonable religion. The excitement, energy, and courage
that early disciples manifested was grounded in the rock-solid proofs
of Jesus’ resurrection among other things. The emotional, energetic, evangelistic
faith of 21st century Christians must likewise be rooted firm
and deep in evidence. But Jesus was not the only
New Testament figure who demonstrated the necessity
of a knowledge-based faith. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John packed
their gospel accounts with confirmation of Jesus being the Christ. Matthew began his account of the
Gospel by genealogically proving that Jesus was the Old Testament
promised seed of Abraham and David. He then noted how Jesus was born of a virgin,
fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Mark began his Gospel account by
quoting Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 43. Mark proved from the Old Testament
prophecy that John the Baptizer was the voice of the one crying in the wilderness
and Jesus was the Lord. Luke also opened his
account of the Good News with an appeal to evidence,
knowledge, and understanding. He wrote, “In as much as many have taken in hand
to set and order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers
of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect
understanding of all things from the first, to write to you an orderly account,
most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those
things in which you were instructed.” Then there is John’s Gospel account,
which from beginning to end is packed with proof that Jesus is the
miracle-working son of God. In fact, the stated purpose of his record
of the various miracles of Christ was so “that you may believe that
Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that believing you
may have life in His name.” If biblical faith is merely a firm belief in
something for which there is no proof– which is one definition Merriam-Webster
has given for the word faith– then why did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John spend so much time
offering proof for who Jesus is? Because the truthful, reasonable
facts of God, His word and His Son are the foundation of real faith. When the Apostle Paul stood before
Festus and King Agrippa in Acts 26 he spoke of those things which the
prophets and Moses said would come: That the Christ would suffer,
that He would be the first to rise from the dead and would proclaim light to
the Jewish people and to the Gentiles. However, as Paul made his defense,
“Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul you are beside yourself!
Much learning as driving you mad!'” How did Paul respond? Did he answer
with a mere emotional appeal? Did he welcome the idea of an unreasonable,
unverifiable gospel? Not at all. Paul humbly but confidently replied, “I am not mad, most noble Festus,
but speak the words of truth and reason.” Make no mistake about it. God has always been concerned with
providing humanity with solid evidence which leads to a rock-solid,
rational faith in Him and His Word. Sadly, most accountable people
in the world will never accept the mountain of evidence for Christianity
and become Christians. But those who choose to
accept the gift of salvation from the Savior by obeying
the Gospel can do so because the truth can be known,
rightly obeyed, and logically defended. If you would like to know more about
the biblical and logical evidence for genuine Christianity,
be sure to visit ApologeticsPress.org.

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