A FACTUAL & HISTORICAL FAITH
(Luke 2:1-5 & 3:1-2)
Luke 2:1-2 – “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)” & 3:1 “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,”
Notice the appeal of the writer to time, places, people, and events that actually existed, took place and are verifiable. Christians are commanded to be ready to give an answer (I Peter 3:15) and we can give an answer about an actual, factual and historically verifiable faith.
INTRODUCTION: I Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” Christians are to be ready to make a defense of the hope that is within us. Now more that ever we need to be ready to make that defense of our faith. The word translated as “answer” in I Peter 3:15 has the meaning of a plea or a defense or making a speech in defense of an action or a truth. We as Christians have a factually based faith. Jesus did exist, He was born, He did die and He did rise again. There is an empty tomb. He did ascend up to heaven and He is sitting on the right hand of God. “Ready” in I Peter 3:15 means to be prepared and to be fit or knowledgeable. We are to be prepared to defend our faith. We therefore need to go about preparing ourselves and be willing and bold about the defending when the time comes.
OUR FAITH IS RATIONAL AND INTELLECTUALLY SOUND – The Christian faith appeals to the mind as well as appeals to the heart. God wants and expects us to use our minds. It has been said by those who want to degrade and insult those that live by faith in Christ, that in order to do so one has to commit “Intellectual Suicide” – this statement could not be further from the truth! Jesus tells us and wants us to involve our minds in our faith. (Matthew 22:36-38 – Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. & John 8:32 – And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
Our hearts need to believe and our minds need to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith. One cannot reject Christ in his mind and accept Him in His heart. Therefore, we need and are blessed with having a rational and intellectual faith we can rest in.
We need to have a strong faith; and having a strong faith requires both heart and mind. So it is important that we present reasons as to why we believe what we believe in an intelligent, logical and thought out manner. God is not the author of confusion and we should strive to not create confusion in our manner of defending of our faith and in how we share and witness of this faith with others. (I Corinthians 14:33a – For God is not the author of confusion, & I Corinthians 16:13 – Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.)
“Christianity’s most powerful cognitive weapon in a pluralistic world —- (is) the factually attestable sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.” – John Warrick Montgomery
Do we have 100% proof? – No, but there is virtually nothing of which it can be said that there is 100% proof. We often make 100% commitments without being given 100% proof. Driving in a car for instance. We cannot have 100% proof we will make it to our objective or make it there safe, but by statistical evidence and personal experience of ourselves or perhaps someone else sharing a personal experience, we can be certain enough to make that 100% commitment to traveling in the car and expecting to arrive at our destination and arrive there safely.
We don’t have 100% proof but this is where faith comes in. We ultimately believe in and accept Christ by faith, not by proof. (Ephesians 2:8 -9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.)
OUR FAITH IS A HISTORICAL AND FACTUAL FAITH (I Corinthians 15:3-8) – This passage gives us a historical and factual account of the many witnesses of the resurrected Christ. We have a faith that is as historically verifiable as other historic events that historians take for granted as fact but then they go and doubt the resurrection accounts and other Biblical accounts with as much or more factual evidence to back them up as the historical accounts they take as fact.
Christianity is a historical faith that appeals to certain historical facts and events, not to man’s philosophical proclamations, not to myths, not to legends not to men who claimed a level of deity and are still in their graves; but to a historically provable risen Savior that died for the sins of all mankind.
“The facts backing the Christian claim are not a special kind of ‘religious’ fact. They are the cognitive, informational facts upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based.” – Charles Pinnock
The New Testament does not try to prove Christ or prove what it is saying. It definitively presents the Christian faith as a matter of concrete, cognitive truth. (John 14:11 – Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.)
OUR FAITH IS AN OBJECTIVE FAITH – Our faith has an object; our faith is in the Son of God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Historical facts about Christ: He was born in Bethlehem; He was the earthly son of Joseph and Mary. Joseph was a carpenter so Jesus would have trained and worked as one too. He lived to the age of about 33 & 1/2. He died in Jerusalem by crucifixion. While hanging on the cross the sky turned dark at noon and stayed dark for three hours (Luke 23:44-48), the veil in the Temple ripped in two (this alone is a miracle the veil was made very thick there is no way it just rips in two on its own), there was an earthquake. All these facts are historically verifiable by the many accounts of them. (II Peter 1:16 – For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.)
We have faith in who Jesus of Nazareth is and what He did – The Son of God, the Christ, the Savior of all who would believe and accept what He has done for all by His death, burial and then resurrection the third day by faith. How He has paid the sin debt of all mankind and all we have to do is repent and accept this payment on our behalf by faith in His shed blood and death on the cross. (Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)
Just having faith is not the most important thing. Muslim’s have faith in Allah, Buddhists have faith, Atheists have faith in nothing (which is actually faith in a conclusion that faith is not necessary) Evolutionists have faith in their theory; faith in and of itself is not the important part but eternal life and death, joy and torment is based on what you place your faith in. Is your faith placed in the Solid Rock of Christ or a “cunningly devised”, by man, object of faith such as Muslims, Buddhists, Evolutionists, Atheists and others believe in? Jesus said in John 8:24 “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” – The object of our faith must be Jesus or we will die in our sins and face an eternal torment in hell.
OUR FAITH IS BASED ON TRUTH NOT FALSIFICATION – Unlike other faiths such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s witnesses, the Christian faith is open and honest, nothing is kept hidden and it is based on solid truth; it invites others to examine it and consider it. (Acts 26:24-26 – And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.)
The Christian faith invites examination of it. If you use the same criterion, the same processes, the same verifying “tools” historians use on other “facts”, you cannot come to any other conclusion accept that Christ did exist, He was born, He did perform many miracles, He was crucified and He did rise from the dead the third day. Christianity is not just a matter of feeling or even action, but it is a religion of factual belief (the Biblical accounts really happened) this factual belief, if tested with the same historical means as which other historical events are examined, would yield even better results than other historical facts already accepted as such.
Christianity in the New Testament is presented as the truth; belief in Christ is presented as the only means of redemption and eternal life in heaven. (John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) Christ’s resurrection, for example, can be examined by non-Christians as well as by Christians. The factual character of it, when considered with the claims of One raised from the dead, does not point to a multiple of different possibilities to explain it; but points to a single “best” interpretation of the data available to lead any objective examiner of the facts to that Jesus really did die and really did rise from the grave the third day. (John 2:18-22 – Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.)
OUR FAITH IS OFTEN REJECTED OR DISMISSED BY OTHERS – WHY? – Why do people reject Christ? It can often be broken down into 3 main areas, though there are other reasons.
Ignorance or a lack of information about Christ. This reason can be their own personal fault for not wanting to listen to information about Christ, it could be the fault of false religions or false so called “Christian teachers or teachings” or this could be the fault of Christians. It could be our fault for not going out and sharing the Gospel like we are commanded to do by Christ in Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Pride. (John 12:42-43 – Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.) – They cared more about how they looked to their peers than where they would spend eternity. Pride can be stronger than common sense sometimes. Pride can also cause people to dismiss Christ entirely because they feel they have no need for Him because they feel they are superior in some way to Christ. Pride may cause someone to think they only need to rely on themselves and no one else, not even Christ.
Moral problems. (John 3:19-20 – And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.) – Some people reject Christ because that would mean they would have to give up their pet sins or leave their sinful lifestyle.
CONCLUSION: We have just seen how the Christian faith is a rational and intellectually sound faith. It is a faith that invites people to use their minds, to examine the Bible, to examine its teachings to examine its historicity and let the Spirit lead them into faith in Christ as their Savior. We’ve seen how the Christian faith is a factual faith. It is based on real people, real events, real places the accounts actually took place and our part of the history of the world. We have seen how the Christian faith is an objective faith. With the object of it being the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. How He is the Son of God, how He is the Savior of “whosoever will”. The Christian faith is based on truth not falsifications like other religions. It is based on truth not myths or made up stories; unlike how the world likes to sometimes paint the Christian faith as being. Yet despite all of this, the Christian faith is often rejected my men. It is rejected for many reasons including ignorance or a lack of knowledge of Christ (this reason may be partly the fault of Christians) they also reject the Christian faith because of their own pride and because of moral failings.
We as Christians need to rest assured that our faith is based on true historical accounts; many of which if held up to the same criterion and standards as other historical “facts” would come out looking stronger and more reliable than them. We as Christians need to understand we have a faith that we need to be ready to defend. We need to have at least a general understanding and knowledge of the pressing issues, questions and challenges to our faith today and how to give that Biblical stance to those issues, that Biblical answer to those questions and that Biblical defense to those challenges. We need to boldly stand for Biblical truth while doing so with a meek and humble spirit. (I Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear)