Monday, December 12, 2016

Faith the Only Reliable Epistemology: It's Got to Be Faith

People can talk about justification by faith or being saved by faith, and that is good.  It's biblical.  We are justified by faith, we are saved by faith. That's right. Faith, however, is even much bigger than that. Faith doesn't sit next to religion about as trustworthy as personal taste.  Faith isn't conventional wisdom.  Faith is a major means that we know.

More attaches itself to faith than knowledge, but the most important, the most vital knowledge comes by faith.  It must.  Epistemology is the study of the method for acquisition of knowledge. It answers the question, "How do we know?"  I'm saying that we know by faith, because scripture says we know by faith.

If you study knowledge or knowing or understanding through scripture, and that's all in the Bible a lot, you find that it comes from God.  In John 9:29, Jesus says, "We know that God spake unto Moses."  Jesus could say that He knows that because He is God and that He was there, but He says, "We know."  How do we know?  We know by faith.  We weren't there.  We didn't see it happen.  We believe it, because God said it, so we know it.

Hebrews 11:3 comes in here, because it says, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God."  No one saw creation, but we understand it by faith.  God said it in Genesis 1-2 and so we believe it.  In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul says, "I know whom I have believed."

Why is faith the means of knowledge?  We could say to the glory of God, and that's true.  That is a point Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 1-3.  There is a means by which someone knows God by which God receives the glory.  That's how God will get things done -- in a way that will bring Him glory.  If it is by faith, then it is by grace, which means that God is doing it, so He gets the credit for it (Rom 4:16).

Faith is the pure and, therefore, reliable means of knowing.  Faith is not a work.  It is a gift (Philip 1:29, Eph 2:8-9).  Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and the Word of God is incorruptible seed (1 Pet 1:23) and the sincere milk (1 Pet 2:2), that is, the pure mother's milk.  All the eternal things have to come by faith, because only faith pleases God (Heb 11:6).  God has a standard higher than any of us can reach.  We can't get there our way.

Furthermore, we must know or understand by faith, because the other means are unreliable.  This is why in 2 Peter, Peter said that the "sure word of prophecy," "scripture," is superior to his eyewitness testimony on the Mount of Transfiguration (2 Pet 1:16-21).  It's why Abraham (and Jesus) in Luke 16:28-31 said no to the experience, the sight of someone coming from hell, but instead believing Moses and the Prophets.  The knowledge of salvation comes through scripture.  The threshold into eternal life comes through scripture.  Our salvation and sanctification comes through scripture (cf. Jn 17:17).

Ultimately everything that is important, what is eternal, the answer even for everything in this age, comes by faith.  It must be faith.  It must be faith, because of two other related aspects.  One, our abilities are flawed.  Our sight is muddled.  We cannot count on us.  We are not going to see it right. Two, the forensics have been trampled upon.  We do not enter a clean crime scene.  Whatever it is we are looking at has been affected by the harmful effects of the curse too.  We can't trust our sight and we can't trust what we see.  We can trust God's Word, and we can believe by means of the Word of God, because that is a gift of God.

When James says we are begotten by the Word of Truth (James 1:18), he ties that into God's unchangeable nature, the lack of variation of God.  God is outside of the box.  There is no shadow of turning with Him.  He is not effected or affected.  That's why every good and perfect gift comes from above.  It can't originate here.  This scene has been spoiled.  It has to come from the outside, which is why we have to live by faith.

You can say that you know, but you don't really know.  You think you know.  What you really know, you know by faith.  That's what you know.  That's why we shouldn't apologize for seeing faith as science.  It is superior to so-called science.  It is better than the science side of the campus.  Faith should not be relegated to the art side of the campus.  We know by faith.

More to Come.


Anonymous said...

The best way to know something is if Somebody who knows everything tells you about it.

Mat Dvorachek

Kent Brandenburg said...


Good statement. As a corollary, what He tells you comes with the power to cut through the lies and the unwillfulness too.

Jon Gleason said...

Well said, Kent.

You gave two reasons why we have to rely on faith:
1. Our abilities are flawed, our sight is muddled.
2. The forensics have been trampled.

I'll add a third. Even if our sight were clear, even if the forensics hadn't been trampled:
3. Our sight is limited.

Pre-fall Adam's sight had not yet been muddled by sin, and the "crime scene was clean." Yet, he also needed faith, for he could not see everything.

Even if we somehow could be sure we were seeing clearly, we still would need faith for the things that are beyond our sight. There is a spiritual realm and spiritual truth of which we simply must be told. All we could see of that realm, even if our eyes were working right, would be shadows and reflections. We might be able to see that the heavens declare the glory of God, if we were looking at them clearly, but we could not see Him without Him telling us who He is.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I agree. Nice addition.