Updated: Sep 6, 2021
I’ve typed a lot of sentences in different blog posts recently about the evidentiary principles that back up the New Testament Scriptures. These principles of evidence are displayed throughout the NT writings. But not only is there objective evidence that backs up the books of the NT, but there is also the personal, subjective experience of the one who encounters Jesus Christ that is great proof to support the truthfulness of the New Testament/the Christian faith.
One might say that subjective experience is not a reliable gauge of knowing that something is true. However, it is our common experience in life that we often rely on the experience of others when we make our decisions. For instance, in making a decision to buy a car, I normally consult a wide variety of people as well as test drive different cars that are on my list of candidates. The more people that I consult with who tell me of their good experiences with a particular car, the more likely the chances are that I will listen to them and purchase the vehicle.
Of course, I will test drive the car first to see if what my advisors are saying is true. So, after rave reviews from my friends, my favorable personal experience of driving a certain car, investigating under the hood, and looking at the maintenance log, etc., there is a good chance that I will buy the car. Conversely, there might be a rude awakening for me if I go to the first car lot I come across and purchase the first car I see!
This also holds true in many other decisions we make. Of course, the big thing that Internet shoppers look for is the review on a particular item of interest. For instance, I recently made reservations at a resort property. I made sure to look closely at all of the on-line reviews before I made my decision to reserve a room there. In addition to following the online advice, I stayed at the establishment and found that the reviews I read were right on the money. It was a great property and the family had a memorable experience there. I would definitely visit this property again after my experience with it. But what if I did a search for the property and paid no attention to the reviews? I think that all of us have probably stayed at a dive before, right?
I remember having to scramble, due to an emergency response out of town, where someone else booked the room for me at our destination. After responding to the area, we quickly learned from the local Marshals Office that the particular hotel we were staying at was a favorite spot for purveyors of various vices who operated 24/7. Needless to say from our personal experience the first night and after consulting with someone who was very familiar with the property, we relocated to a much nicer hotel the next day (the new hotel was recommended from someone who had a good experience with it).
In the same way that I have been given good advice about different cars and properties, I have also been informed about the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many years ago, after listening to others who told me to try it out, I did. Upon asking Jesus to forgive me of my wrongdoings and to guide me through life, I have found through my experience that my relationship with Jesus Christ informs me on how to live optimally and prosper (not necessarily in a material sense, but in a holistic way). Moreover, I have also experienced comfort when tragic events occur. So not only has Jesus unburdened me from the guilt of my past wrongdoing, not only does he guide me through this life now through the influence of the Holy Spirit, but he is also there in times of tragedy to comfort me when I have experienced great loss. Moreover, in opposition to our current hedonistic culture, the life of sacrifice for others, as modeled by Jesus Christ, brings daily peace and contentment.
So, my subjective experience of Jesus Christ is powerful proof to me of the validity of the Christian faith. Some may say that those of other faiths have experienced a “burning in the bosom” that has convinced them that their experience of god is valid. However, this is where the Christian faith stands tall. Not only does the “Jesus follower” experience the presence of God in one’s life, but their experience of Jesus is also confirmed by objective and historical evidence. Even as Jesus followers subjectively experience the power and presence of God in their lives, they can be confident that accepted principles of evidence undergird their personal experience with God. The Christian faith is unique in the sense that it has both objective and subjective elements that provide powerful proof for not only its truthfulness but also for its ability to improve/transform the lives of those who follow its teachings.