In Philippians 1:29, we read, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (NKJV). The word “granted” means “to give graciously, give freely, bestow.”/1 Christ has presented the opportunity to believe in him and his word.
Faith is absolutely indispensable to salvation. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5).
God provides the Bible so that we can believe in his message. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:16). Faith in God means that we believe he exists, is the Almighty and has all the answers. He has given us the ability to reason and understand what is provided in Scripture so that we can have faith.
“Man has been given sufficient evidence to enable him to believe. Much of the New Testament is evidentiary in nature.”/2 Several passages establish the evidence that we need to believe in Christ and in the authority of Scripture.
The Apostle John wrote, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30,31). In John 21:24 he adds, “This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.”
John began with the claim that Jesus was God and therefore eternal (John 1:1-4,14). He then sets out to prove the truth of his words. He selects stories and proofs from the life of Christ in order to provide unassailable evidence of the divinity of Christ. This effort culminates in the exclamation of Thomas in John 20:28, “My Lord and my God!” John then writes, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
In John 20:28 and John 21:24, we find authority based on eyewitness accounts. This seems foreign to a scientific age where we require hands-on knowledge in order to verify the validity of truth. Scripture, though, does not operate this way.
In Hebrews 11, we find a listing of men and women in the Old Testament who were victorious because of their vibrant faith in God. The author establishes that “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” we should also acquire this type of faith (Hebrews 12:1,2). Although all these heroes are dead, their lives continue to affirm the victory of faith. Their legacy is designed to motivate us to be fueled with this conquering faith.
Eyewitness accounts fill the Bible and are authoritative to the extent that what Scripture teaches is true. The rich man was told, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
Scripture clearly expects the reader to understand that it is inspired and that it is absolute truth (2 Timothy 3:16,17). We should utilize these faith-affirming truths properly and persuasively as often as we can.
1/ Joseph Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Broadman: Nashville, 1977), 665.
2/ J.K. Gossett, “The Privilege of Suffering for Christ,” in “A Homiletic Commentary on a Book of Philippians,” edited by Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren (Memphis: Getwell Church of Christ, 1987), 123-124.
What Role did Eyewitnesses Play in Scripture?