Questions that often come back to me through social media are like “With faith, who needs knowledge?” or “As long as I have faith in Jesus, who needs knowledge?” Well to have faith in Jesus one first has to know about Him and to know about Him you have to hear about Him from someone or by reading the New Testament.
Let it be said at the outset that faith trumps knowledge but knowledge about something or someone always precedes faith. Faith depends on knowledge about something. Jesus spoke about faith often and noted the importance of becoming as little children (Mathew 18:2). Children are avid learners but usually under control.
A child is in a position of total acceptance with no doubt or reservation. The influences of the world have not had its effects on a child’s mind like it has had on adults where more reasoning comes into play. For an adult these influences make the journey to faith more difficult. Still, for a child and an adult, knowledge had to be first imparted to them.
Regardless of age faith comes through hearing the Gospel (Rom. 10:17) and hearing is one of the 5 senses that brings knowledge to us. Hearing the Gospel is the first step to gain the initial knowledge of Jesus. Then a person begins to seek and become a true believer. Somewhere down in some of us the Gospel knowledge strikes an inner response that we seem to intuitively desire to connect with God.
For example, missionaries often minister to native tribes that have never encountered anyone or any information outside of their own culture. The missionaries testify that many of these native tribes worship a deity of their own making and often have a code of conduct that has similarities to the Ten Commandments. The natives come to this based only on knowledge gained from nature and experience that appeal to their intuition that there is a creator god. Their acquired knowledge was the initiator.
Knowledge is important to proclaim the Gospel. Jesus in John 17:7 stated that his disciples knew with certainty who he was, from where he came and that he and his Father were one. The disciples had the benefit of being eye-witnesses. Luke opens his gospel telling Theophilus that he was making an orderly account based on eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life so that he would know with certainty. Peter and Paul used knowledge to effectively argue before the chief priests and Roman magistrates and governors and make their case.
Jesus constantly drew on knowledge to debate with the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. While the educated elite of their time they were no match for Him.
Thus knowledge of the Gospel is powerful in proclaiming, defending or contending for the faith. For those with faith additional knowledge builds confidence in the faith and can be a powerful evangelistic tool.
In some evangelizing situations if one is not prepared to answer faith questions with evidence the opportunity for a faith conversion may be lost. Questions such as “How do you know God exists”? or “How do you know Jesus rose from the dead?” or “How do you know God created the heavens and the earth?” cannot always be answered with “Because the Bible says so”. You are right but you may lose a potential convert who is not at that level of faith and understanding.
Honest questions from people about faith are often reason or intellectually based and reflect an interest and a desire for an answer. What we are telling them based on Biblical descriptions often seems supernatural and unbelievable to them. Because they do not have a faith basis to consider the supernatural they cannot accept a supernatural explanation. However, evidence coupled with reason often leads to a point where only a supernatural explanation will suffice. This is true in relating science to the Bible. To be true to the scientific method the supernatural must be considered if that is where the data is leading.
Consider an example of you discussing with someone the supernatural Biblical description of the creation of the heavens and the earth versus the textbook science explanation. To many the Biblical description seems unbelievable. However, science leads to the conclusion that the universe was created out of nothing or at least from a single point of singularity. What the science is saying is that there was a beginning and reasonably concludes that if there was a beginning there was a beginner or cause. As people of faith we can call that beginner God because the Bible also says that the beginning was from nothing and goes one step further to identify the beginner as God. We know from the Bible that God was before creation. Only the “I am” was (Exodus 3:14). Space, matter and time and all of the natural laws that govern science came into being at or after the beginning of creation. Before there was any known science to man the creation itself was a supernatural event. How else can you explain it? (See also. http://toknowwithcertainty.com/387-2/)
Similarly, the resurrection of Jesus could be discussed with powerful evidence supporting its truth as a supernatural event. (See http://toknowwithcertainty.com/what-is-the-evidence-for-jesus-resurrection/)
These evidence based conversations have moved from a pure reliance on the rare instance of a person having instant faith during an evangelistic encounter to one where evidence supports at least a consideration that the supernatural or God was involved. Here we can enter discussion. We have appealed to the mind as a potential rout to the heart and soul.
This reminds us of the first half of the great commandment, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. At times the mind seems to be the lost part of how we should love God. However, for some people the mind is the route to their heart and soul so they can understand God intellectually and then love him spiritually. This is exactly what happened to the world’s #1 longtime atheist a few years back.
Now go use your mind and appeal to theirs to create common ground where knowledge can be their first step toward salvation