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Reason and Belief

By Pastor Chad

It isn’t abnormal to use words that we don’t completely understand and can’t fully define. Words like “love” and “science” are far easier to describe than to define. But given the significance of the words “belief” or “faith” in the Christian life, it seems to me we should strive for a pretty good understanding of their meanings. 

In my message on Sunday, we discussed three aspects of faith/belief given to us by Jesus in John 11. Though the message in no way provided an exhaustive or extensive description of belief, Jesus does give us some clarity about its nature. 

Sometimes, Christians tend to think that there is a conflict between faith and reason. The idea is that somehow faith and reason are not compatible; someone can either have faith or she can have reason, but no one can have both. The tension comes due to a misunderstanding of what Christian faith is. When Jesus or Paul command us to believe in the gospel, they are not saying we should have a blind, irrational faith. Let me state it clearly: Christian belief makes sense. 

I’m reminded of two passages in this regard. In Isaiah 1:18, God exhorts His hearers to “Come…let us reason.” When God calls us to place our trust in Jesus Christ and His redemptive work, He is not declaring that we must mindlessly believe. He is asking us to make a smart decision for our lives. 

Luke uses similar language to describe Paul’s method of evangelism. In Acts. 17:2, we read that “Paul went [to the synagogue], as was his custom, and…reasoned with [the Jews] from the Scriptures.” This passage is helpful. We see that Paul reasoned from Scripture with those who adhered to Scripture. So Paul used the sacred text of Scripture to show how it pointed to Jesus. In doing this, he used reason. In other words, Paul showed the logical connections between what the Old Testament prophesied and what Jesus did (and who Jesus was). 

Scripture itself illustrates for us the importance (dare I say the necessity) of using reason in our evangelistic and spiritual lives. If the Bible encourages us to use reason, then reason cannot be contrary to the life of faith. So why does this matter? Why should we care?

The call of the Christian life is one that involves our “hearts, souls, and minds.” We cannot divorce one of the greatest functions of humanity–our ability to reason–from our walk with Christ. Let me put it like this: Christianity is true. Since Christianity is true, it makes sense to follow the commands and precepts given in the Christian faith. Since Christianity is true, it is reasonable to follow Jesus. Since Christianity is true, it makes sense to believe in the gospel. 

When Jesus calls us to believe in Him, He is not saying, “Cross your fingers and hope that what I say is right.” He is saying, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Thus, trusting in Jesus is the smartest thing one can do.       

To hear the full sermon, click here.


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