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LIFE > Life in Christ > The Focus of Faith  


Christian faith centers unequivocally and absolutely in the person of Jesus Christ. This is to say that faith is essentially existential not intellectual; it is more moral than mental. But this does not underestimate the intellectual dimensions of the Faith. It does indicate, however, that faith is focused upon Someone, not something—we believe in Christ not in Christianity.

Even so, it must be understood that someone can only be known by knowing some things about that someone (and in this sense faith is intellectual). In order to believe in Christ, one must know some things about Christ—that He is God, that He died for sinners, and that He arose from the dead—but the knowledge at best is limited. We do not have exhaustive knowledge of the Savior.

Therefore, faith is placed in Someone that is known but who is not fully known. And the faith in Him is in expectation that forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation will come to the life, which is at heart a moral transaction. In the deepest sense, faith is the experience of the individual who, as a sinner, looks to Jesus as the Savior. We must heed the instruction to the jailor: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31).

Stressing the experiential aspect of faith does not undercut the appeal of the Word to the mind of man, but it does focus the appeal more to the moral side of man than to the intellectual side. Faith involves both knowledge and trust; “knowledge” speaks of something to believe, facts or the truth, while “trust” speaks of the Person, Someone to be committed to and rely upon. Because of the something we know and accept about the Someone, we trust Someone, namely, the Christ. Man may believe the right facts intellectually, but also he may not have experienced moral transformation (the Devil knows and remains unconverted), which only takes place when one experiences the Lord and Savior—Jesus.

It is not a choice between the intellectual and the moral; rather, it is to comprehend the proper integration of the two: the intellectual leads to the moral. Because of what I know about Jesus, I trust Him as my Savior and the Lord of my life—experience must center in Jesus. Information culminates in transformation (see: Personal or Propositional).

According to Jesus, God cannot be known as Father except by Him. The natural man does not receive the things of God; they are foolishness to him (I Cor. 1:18). It is impossible for the unregenerate man to know God as Father; he can only know God as God. Apart from the Son no person can know the Father. Therefore, at the center of one’s relationship to God is the Christ of God, the Son of God. No one comes to the Father except through the Son (Jo. 14:6). Pointedly Jesus states: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also” (v. 7). To know God as Father is to know the Son; to know the Son is to know the Father. Only after the Son has made the Father known to the believer is that individual qualified to study and to evaluate matters of doctrine.

Thus, the unregenerate individual can never be a Christian theologian, and the only valid theology is a Christian theology. Only the children receive from the Father, the children that have been made children of the Father by the Son. In the words of James Denney, “There can be no theologian without religious experience” (Studies in Theology, 16).

A theologian discusses God (Theos),
but the basis for the discussion is an experience of the Son,
for the Son validates study of the Father.

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