“Faith wants to become FACT!” That phrase was ringing in my ears as I awoke early on Easter morning. Clear as a bell, I knew Jesus was speaking to me about two facts. Fact #1: Jesus is alive! Fact #2: I know it for a fact! What others may see as my “faith” isn’t faith at all. It’s knowledge of the FACTS. Faith has nothing to do with it. An eternal truth was revealed to little old me. I was shown that Jesus is alive. Knowing that I know that fact is also a fact. These two facts change everything!
Do you “know that you know that you know” that Jesus is alive? Then you too have been shown these two facts. Most of the world doesn’t have a clue. Only about two billion of our present population self-identify as Christians. That’s just 2 out of 7. In reality though, it may be that a fair percentage of Christians do not know these truths as facts, only as articles of belief. Their faith may bring them to rebirth, but in the meantime there is a huge difference between faith for the facts and knowledge of the facts. Faith wants to become fact within us.
The Uniqueness of Christian Faith
Christianity isn’t like other faiths. First of all, it is true. Naturally, that sets it apart, but how do we know that? Isn’t it prideful to believe it? Doesn’t that go beyond the boundaries of what faith can assert? Not at all. We have been shown the FACT that Jesus is alive—and we know that for a FACT! Being born again means that God has in some way revealed Jesus to us as our living Savior and Lord. We absolutely know that He died for us and rose again. This fact is the God-given foundation for our faith. Our faith isn’t founded on spiritual belief, or religious tradition, or cultural history. The core of what we believe is a fact of the universe that God Himself has shown us. Maybe we can’t prove this fact to others, but God has certainly proved it to us.
Our faith is founded on receiving personal revelation of ultimate truth. If God has shown us that Jesus is alive, then it is not prideful to acknowledge it. How we go about proclaiming that fact may indeed be prideful, but true humility can have no other opinion about truth than what God has shown. It would be prideful to say that we don’t really know for sure, or that we are only operating on personal faith. We’re not! We Christians are the only people on the planet in possession of these stupendous facts: Jesus is alive and this fact can be known as a fact.
These two facts necessarily go together, but they are not the same thing. The first fact is the objective event of his saving work which includes His death and resurrection. The second fact is the subjective event of God’s revelation of that first fact to us. Even if you have been shown these two facts, you may not fully realize the enormity of what you have been given or how to put it to best use. Watch how an entire understanding of the universe revolves around knowing these two facts.
1) Facts not Faith: How the faith of the early church was founded on these two facts.
2) Facts and Faith: How we build our faith and our world view on these two facts.
3) Faith on Facts: How knowing these two facts changes everything else (if you let it).
Facts not Faith
How every believer in the New Testament received faith as a fact.
When we read the gospel accounts of the resurrection, we see a strange jumble of experiences, all seemingly different: the women with the angel, Mary Magdalene with the “gardener,” Peter and John racing to the tomb, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and Thomas left out of the inner circle entirely. They all have one thing in common though: These early disciples wanted their faith to become fact—yet none of them were convinced by second-hand evidence.
That’s a pity, because the second-hand evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ makes it one of the most powerfully proven events in history. To this day there is no logical, rational argument that holds up against the evidence of the empty tomb, the combined eye-witness reports, and the explosion of transformed lives (see these three proofs at our website beginning with The Empty Tomb). Nevertheless, these unanswerable “proofs” rarely convince anyone of the truth of the Christian claim that Jesus is alive. That should not surprise us. They didn’t convince anyone then.
They do, however, cultivate a faith-hope that the resurrection took place. What carried the disciples over the line is the same thing that works for all of us: At some point along the way God revealed Jesus to them. Let’s take “doubting” Thomas as our case in point. He knew about the empty tomb (and knew his friends weren’t the ones who had removed the body). He heard first-hand their enthusiastic eye-witness reports. He also saw how tremendously changed they were (in their confidence and joy) from what he still was (in his doubts and distress). He wasn’t swayed by any of this. What convinced Him? Seeing the Lord for himself. Nevertheless, Jesus upbraided Thomas for his lack of faith and placed an everlasting blessing on those who would come to believe “without seeing.” That’s us!
We don’t usually see the Risen Christ with our natural eyes as the early disciples did, but we do come to see Him just as well. We see Him through having our inward eye of faith opened. When that happens, we know as thoroughly as Thomas and the others did, that Jesus is “our Lord and our God” (John 20:28). Whether you come to this knowledge by sudden conversion (as I did) or by the slow growth of faith, if you “know that you know” then you are in full possession of the FACTS. Upon these facts we can build by faith an entirely new and far more accurate understanding of the universe we live in than anything the world has to offer.
Facts and Faith
How we build our faith and our world view on these two facts.
How do we do that? How do we build upon these two facts? Paul was a brilliant and incredibly well-educated Jew of his day. Yet, he tells us that he counted all that as nothing, that he might know Jesus better. He also said that as a wise master builder he was interested in laying no other foundation than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. But, of course, he never would have said these things before becoming convinced of the “new” facts of the universe he was living in. The turning point of his life came when God revealed His son to Paul. From then on he was off to the races!
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11
A similar thing happened to me. At age 33 God revealed Jesus to me in such a stunning way that my entire world was turned upside down, very much for the better. I could see at last that I had been enslaved by a demonic deception for the previous twelve years (that story is told in Rescued from Hell at Amazon). I was glad to be free of the lies, but it meant that like Paul, I now needed to rebuild my entire understanding of the universe, of myself, of God, and of other people upon the only certain foundation: Jesus Christ.
In the next section I will show how to lay the first course in those four main areas of knowledge, but here I want to explain the difference between our faith and our knowledge of the facts. The facts form the foundation. Everything else is built upon those facts by faith. If we don’t understand what faith is we are likely to become prideful and argumentative, thinking we know more than we do. If we don’t understand what knowing the facts gives us, we can easily lose confidence and strength of faith.
Here are the bare essentials of the facts: I know that Jesus is alive and that He has (somehow) made Himself known to me as my Lord and Savior. (Don’t you?) Going beyond this is very tempting at this point, but to go any further is to move beyond the facts to building on them by faith. If we stick to the facts, we will quickly see that we have tons in common with every genuine Christian who ever lived. We all have these facts in common. Once we start building on this foundation, however, we soon find many points of difference.
That’s because our understanding is a work of faith, not facts. The facts are not up for discussion, much less debate. That Jesus is alive and that He is Lord is the truth that believing Christians have been shown. However, in the initiating event of Jesus being revealed to us, we were not shown a whole lot else. The rest is supposition, inference and interpretation—aided by the Holy Spirit, but hindered by our flesh. Even when we bring the Bible into the picture, we are still building our understanding by means of supposition, inference and interpretation—based on what we believe the Bible is telling us.
I am not arguing against the Bible at all—it is a priceless means of renewing our minds and rebuilding our understanding, but what we do with it is a work of faith, not knowledge. There is a LOT that I believe based on the Bible that I would bet my life on, but I try to remember (with humility) that my faith-understanding of these things is not based upon direct revelation. I know Jesus by direct revelation. I believe Biblical truths by faith—faith that the Bible is true and faith that the understanding I have of it is also true. I hope you can see the difference. It’s huge!
Faith on Facts
How knowing these two facts changes everything else (if you let it).
Here is where the fun begins. Picture what Paul was referring to—the thick stone foundation of an important building in the ancient world. That’s what we’ve been given, already laid by God. The first course of quarried and carved stone that goes upon it will give shape to the whole structure and be as solid as the foundation it rests upon. This first set of beliefs laid on the foundation will feel massively solid, because we are going to stick closely to what the facts are telling us.
1) Knowing these two facts, changes the way we see God.
The first faith-encounter with Jesus almost always conveys a sense of His grace and mercy. Whatever else we may have thought of God, we now know that God is love, that our sins can be forgiven, and that we have an eternal home in heaven, and (not least) that God can be known. We also know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is a Person (not an unknowable, impersonal force), because Jesus is.
Now that I know that Jesus is alive, I also know that the Bible is true in what it says about Him. He really did die for our sins and rise again! This confirms the Bible to me as God’s way of speaking truth to me. The Bible is now embedded upon the foundation. It becomes the primary means of developing my faith-understanding based on the two facts I know.
In the Bible I see that Jesus lived His whole life in devoted relationship with the One He called Father. I also see that Jesus promised to send the One He called the Holy Spirit to live within and upon those who believe. I may have very confused ideas about this Three-in-One God, but because Jesus clearly believes in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so do I! Incidentally, because the Jesus I see in the Bible thoroughly believed in the reality of Satan, the demons, hell, the good angels and heaven, I do too. To become like Jesus we need to make sure that we believe what Jesus believed. That’s Rock-solid reasoning from revelation.
2) Knowing these two facts, changes the way we see ourselves.
There is a whole package of gifts that comes with being born again (see What Just Happened to Me? at our website) but most folks aren’t usually aware of more than a few at the time of conversion. Just coming to the faith realization that Jesus really is alive is overwhelming enough. Now, that I know Him, I know who my Lord and my God is. I know that He loves me enough to reveal Himself to me and show me great grace. I know that heaven is as real as He is and that He wants me there with Him. I know that my sins have been forgiven and that He is not condemning me, but loving me. How about this one: I know that He knows me! I am not alone without a God, not neglected or overlooked by God, but intimately known by Him.
Now, what this great FACT should awaken in us is a corresponding realization, one that is crucial to the kind of life we will lead with Jesus for our God. Until the reality of Jesus as our Lord is revealed to us, we really have little other option than to live for our self. Sure, we can attempt to live for other people, or live through them, but that’s a stretch. Our fallen nature is so self-centered and self-protective that when push comes to shove, we almost always fall back into basing our life on our own wants, desires, needs and ideas. The daily questions are “What do I want to do? How do I want to handle this? What do I think or feel about it?” There’s really no one who can tell us better than ourselves. Or so it seems.
But let Jesus be revealed and that old foundation can be immediately discarded. We are not the center of the universe; we are not even at the center of our life. Jesus is! Now that He is revealed as our Lord we have somewhere else to go for far better answers to those essential daily questions. We are free (at last!) to no longer be enslaved to living for ourselves by the light of our limited understanding or our often distorted feelings. We can turn from Self as our guide and live for Jesus instead. This is exactly what Paul described as one of the key features of the new creation that we are.
And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:15
3) Knowing these two facts, changes the way we see other people.
Because of these two facts—that Jesus is alive and can be known—I now know things about other people that even they might not know. I know for a fact that Jesus is their Lord and potential Savior. I know that He must love them as much as He loves me. I know that their sins are as fully covered by Him as mine turned out to be. I know that He knows them and wants them to know Him. I know that if they don’t know Him they are completely in the dark where the most important fact of their life is concerned: Their Lord and God is alive and His name is Jesus. And I know that if Jesus could reveal Himself to me, He can do it for anyone.
This tells me that no matter how convinced or convincing the atheist is, or the worshipper of some other (so called) god, they are totally deceived. It may do little good to tell them that, but it is something I need to know with a firm and absolute conviction, or I will be of little help to them as an intercessor and witness. We live in a politically charged climate that has gone against faith in Christ. The blinded ones are seeking to control the conversation and make it seem that we who believe are out in left field. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t let the unbelief of others intimidate you or cause you to doubt. You know what you have been shown! You know the truth that others don’t want to see or hear. Stand fast!
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
If you have been shown that Jesus is alive and you know it for a fact, then you know what all other people need to know. At the end of their life no one is going to stand before Mohamed, or Allah, or Buddha, or Shiva, or any of the other contenders for deity. No one is just going to drift off into the Big Sleep whether of Nirvana, or sheer unconsciousness. And certainly no one will be “partying” in hell. We will all stand before God and Jesus. People who follow the false religions or who think there is no God to seek are simply wrong. They haven’t yet been shown what you’ve been shown. That doesn’t make us better than them, but it has opened our eyes to see ultimate truths that others don’t. Their need for your prayers and witness is far greater than they can possibly imagine.
4) Knowing these two facts, changes the way we see the universe.
I have immense respect for science and scientists. We need their devoted and disciplined efforts to advance every field of knowledge and continue making those discoveries that make our lives better. However, we would be wise to filter what they say through the lens of what we have been shown. It seems that very few scientists actually know the most important truth this universe has to show them: Jesus is alive and He is Lord. I remember saying to myself at the time of my conversion: “I had one of the best educations that money can buy and I was never taught the most important thing to know!”
Naturally enough, people who don’t know the truth, especially a truth as big as this, will come up with all kinds of other explanations. We humans are rarely content to simply confess our ignorance. It is an act of hubris on the part of scientists (and other atheists) to proclaim that this universe has no Creator, or that there is no God watching over the world, guiding human destinies and shepherding creation. No amount of scientific research will ever be able to prove the existence or non-existence of spiritual realities because science can only investigate material realities. They should know this, but few stop at these limits.
Through no fault of our own and certainly through no merit of our own, we Christians have been shown the truth. In knowing for a fact that Jesus is alive, we know for a fact that this universe was created by Him. We know that He is Lord over it all and we know that He is intimately involved with every human life, because He is with ours. We cannot expect that others, no matter how many degrees they have, will see and believe this, or take our word for it. But if we pray and give our witness, the Lord just may lead these blinded souls to enlightenment and genuine conversion. In the meantime, we can rest assured that our universe has a Creator and a Redeemer lovingly watching over even the sparrows…
The Solid Rock
We know these two facts not because we deserve to know them, but because we have been shown them by Someone else—someone who is in charge of ALL the facts. And we know this for a fact.
What we build upon these facts will determine the course of our life. How we build upon it will determine whether we’re prideful or humble, careful or confused. Remember to watch carefully over the line that separates what you know (the two facts) from what you believe based on what you were shown (your faith-understanding built upon those facts).
It is important for your faith confidence to recognize that these two facts are not matters of belief any more than saying that the sun in the sky warms and enlightens the earth. To a blind person that statement is a matter of faith: The blind cannot see the sun and have to take the word of others in faith. But let their eyes be opened and they will know it for a fact themselves. It is exactly the same with our faith-facts.
A major accomplishment of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that now the Father can give to His blinded, unenlightened children the key to unlock their sin-darkened minds and re-build their understanding on the Rock of profound truth.
Sadly, according to Barna surveys, less than 20% of Christians in the US have their understanding infused with a Biblical world view. This means many of us here in the States have not been using this God-given “code” to reprogram our minds. We are still seeing things like “copper-tops” in the Matrix, interpreting the world by the world, rather than by what has been revealed. Don’t let that be you!
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