Summary: It is important that these three vital components of our Christian experience be kept in their proper order: fact, faith, and then feeling.
FACT, FAITH AND FEELING
“Now, I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which you are saved.” I Corinthians 15:1-2a.
It is important that these three vital components of our Christian experience be kept in their proper order: fact, faith, and then feeling. I want you to think about a triangle. Its three sides are (1.) Verifiable Facts; (2.) Believing Faith and (3.) the Feeling(s) that accompany true faith.
I. BELIEVING THE FACTS:
The baseline of our triangle has to do with facts that are absolutely essential to properly picture the Christian experience.
"After that He appeared to Peter, then to the other apostles. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, He appeared to me also." I Corinthians 15:5-8.
The bedrock upon which all Christian doctrine rests is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His virgin birth; His sinless nature; His atoning death; His ascension back to heaven and His Second Coming stand or fall on this premise. To verify the fact of the resurrection certifies all other biblical assertions. Let’s look at some historical references that confirm the doctrine of the resurrection.
Few historical facts have such a preponderance of evidence as the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Though its authenticity is questioned by the same crowd that questions the account given in the Gospels, and for the same reason, the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus (37 A.D.-103 A.D.), wrote in his “Antiquities of the Jews” the following:
“Now about this time there was a certain Jesus, a wise man, if indeed he must be called a man. He was in fact the worker of extraordinary things, the teacher of men who accept the truth with pleasure. And he drew to himself many of the Jews and the Greeks also. This man was the Messiah. And when Pilate, because the principle men among us denounced him, had punished him on the cross, those who had loved him from the beginning did not cease. In fact, he appeared to them on the third day alive once more, the divine prophets having already spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things concerning him. And even today the tribe of those who from him are called Christians has grown no less.” (Antiquities of the Jews xviii.3.3)
The Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide wrote in his book “The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective.” (Pg125) "When this scared, frightened band of the apostles, which was just about to throw away everything in order to flee in despair to Galilee; when these peasants, shepherds, and fisherman, who betrayed and denied their master and then failed him miserably, suddenly could be changed overnight into a confident mission society, convinced of salvation and able to work with much more success after Easter than before Easter, then no vision or hallucination is sufficient to explain such a revolutionary transformation."
Dr. Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853), Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, one of two men responsible for the rise of the Harvard Law School to its eminent position wrote the following:
“According to the laws of legal evidence used in the courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.” (McDowell J: A Ready Defense. Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1993 Pg 217).
Being supported by the historical facts that surround the resurrection of our Lord, let us move on to the second leg of this biblical triangle.
II. PROFESSING FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST:
"The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus [literally: "Jesus as Lord"] and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Romans 10:8-10.
Paul points out that there are two essential components to our salvation. Confession of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is stated first. Immediately Paul adds “and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead”. Even the most robust profession has no value unless there is genuine faith in our heart associated with it. Faith in the resurrection of our Lord is the basis of such saving faith since the factuality of all other aspects of the life and ministry of our Lord rest upon the credibility of His resurrection.
III. EXPERIENCING THE FEELING:
1. The feeling of joy that accompanies eternal salvation and in knowing that you are right with God. Peter wrote: