An Unreasonable Faith?


April 6 ,1997 ~ Pickering Standard Church


1 Corinthians 15:1-20 - Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them— yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.


It has been said that we, as Christians, have forsaken the rationalistic philosophy upon which our society is founded and have made a "leap of faith" into the unknown and have landed on God. By rationalistic I refer to the attitude which is so prevalent around us that, unless a thing can be arrived at through the mental process of which man is capable it cannot be said to exist. A leap of faith is then some conclusion at which we arrive without sufficient reason, or proof. Therefore, since modern man has formed the opinion that God cannot be proven, we who believe in Him and have faith that He exists and is able and willing to save all who call upon the name of His Son Jesus have made a leap beyond where reason is apparently able to take us and have landed upon something that we call God.


But they are also living in a world which, in spite all their denial or lack of understanding, has been made for them by a loving and reasonable God. Francis A. Schaeffer calls this their point of conflict, for there is no possibility of a non-Christian living in this world as though God did not exist. The non-Christian will never be able to live entirely consistently with whatever philosophy they are using to replace God because any philosophy that has at its heart the denial of God will always be, at some point, at odds with creation. There will be a place where this constructed philosophy willl just not work and which can then be used to show that there is valid reason to believe in Jesus.


I recently read this little story to my daughter at bedtime and it serves to illustrate the same point which Paul makes in Romans chapter 1


God gave this world to you and me.

It's priceless, yet it's also free.

It's beautiful beyond compare,

and He has left it to our care.


Every day begins anew,

like a rose sparkling with the dew.

They blossom in the morning sun

and bloom until the day is done.


A little seed becomes a tree

and gives its shade to you and me.

Every creature, great and small,

the Lord above has made them all.


The bear, the bee, the kangaroo

all share this world with me and you.

High above us in the sky,

we watch the silver clouds go by.


They bring the gentle rain our way,

and rainbows brighten up our day.

And as we watch the setting sun,

another perfect day is done.


God gave this world to you and me.

He lit the stars above.

By seeing all the things He made...

we know that God is love.


(Precious Moments: What a Wonderful World

A Golden Book, New York,

Western Publishing Company, Inc.,

Racine, Wisconsin)


We live in a creation which functions in the way that it does specifically because God has made it. Descartes, when he climbed into his oven sought to prove from reason alone that God exists. His famous "I think, therefore I am" is for him the foundation of his attempt to prove the existence of God by using his own existence as a starting point. But this is reason applied in the wrong direction. We may arrive at God by means of reason but not by using ourselves as the starting point, we must use God.


We may arrive at God by means of reason, not rationalistically proving from ourselves as a starting point that God exists (Descartes), but our reason may grasp and intellectually make sense out of the revelation which God has given to us in Christ (Paul states this in our text).


Our peers in our culture, for the most part, are unable to grasp the concepts of forgiveness of sin (because from the rationalistic point of view sin does not exist), a rational understanding of the existence of God (because God is religion and as such is a separate entity from rationalism), or the need for Jesus as their saviour (for there is nothing for them to be saved from).


In any conversation with the un-saved then, we need to be aware that telling them to simply believe is not enough. God has given us reason and has made Himself visible to us in a way that is reasonable. There is abundant proof that God is real and that He loves us, as Paul argues in Romans 1:


Romans 1:16-21 - I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.


What our task should be is to present the reality of God to those with whom we come in contact. In every story of conversion in the Bible faith is a response to the overwhelming reality of God. We are not asking people to leap blindly into the void, trusting that some un-knowable being will catch us, we are asking people to put their faith in a real and living God who sent His son Jesus to save them from the eternal death. We ourselves have not leapt into a void but onto the solid rock of Jesus.


We meet folks every day who are experiencing the drastic difference between reality as they understand it and reality as God has made it. We need to address these concerns in the Holy Spirit, showing them that through God alone can all our questions be answered and that only through Him is there any hope of life.