By Steven B. Cowan –
Many Christians today have adopted the secularistic view that religious and moral matters are simply matters of faith or opinion. But I would like to argue instead that Christians ought to stand firm in the conviction that God’s existence and other Christian beliefs are things that can be known to be true.
Now this may have struck some of you as a bit odd. Maybe you’re asking, “Don’t we believe in the importance of faith? Isn’t faith, in fact, a virtue—something that it is good for a person to have?” And, indeed, I would whole-heartedly agree. Faith is a virtue and it is very important to have it. Indeed, your eternal destiny depends on it. What I want to show you, however, is that it is possible to have faith and acknowledge its importance while simultaneously knowing (not just believing) that Christianity is true. What’s more, I want to talk to you about how we can know that Christianity is true.
But before I do any of that, I want to take you directly to the Bible and show you that Holy Scripture itself is abundantly clear that our central beliefs and doctrines can and should be known to be true by God’s people. The Bible leaves no doubt that the existence and sovereignty of God are objects of knowledge; that his moral law can be and is known by all men; that the Lordship, atoning sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus are things that can be known; and that our salvation in him and our hope in his return are likewise matters of knowledge and not simply opinion or blind faith.
In subsequent installments of this essay, I will explain what it means to know something, as well as the means by which we can know that Christianity is true.
I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. (Exod. 6:7)
And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” (Exod. 14:4)
You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other. (Deut. 4:35)
You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” (Deut. 18:21)
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. (1 Kings 18:36)
Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him. (Ps. 4:3)
The LORD is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. (Ps. 9:16)
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. (Ps. 25:14)
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. (Isa. 43:10)
But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” (Matt. 9:6)
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:3-5)
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:38)
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. (John 21:24)
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. (Acts 2:22)
Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)
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. (Rom 1:18-19)
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom 1:32)
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (Rom 3:21)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:6)
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. (Eph. 1:18)
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Tim 2:3-5)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1John 5:13)