Saturday, September 24, 2016

ANSWERING OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE GOSPEL, Part 2

OBJECTION #2: "Adding 1 Corinthians 15:5 'And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:' to the Gospel is based on a misunderstanding of Biblical faith since faith is never seen. If one needs historical visual proof that Christ rose from the dead, then they do not have Biblical faith. Hebrews 11:1 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' Faith provides the proof or evidence not one's eye. The proof is that the promise from God is made real to you by the work of the Holy Spirit. This is an important distinction since if you include verse five why not verse six too, or seven or eight or the whole Bible?"1

ANSWER: I have several concerns with what is stated above. First, no one is "Adding 1 Corinthians 15:5 . . . to the Gospel" like the objector wants us to believe. The truth is: 1 Corinthians 15:5 is part of the Gospel. When we look at the sentence structure of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 in the original Greek as well as in the English language, we see that 1 Corinthians 15:5 is grammatically connected to the previous two verses by the coordinating conjunction "and" so that we could outline the Gospel like this:

            that Christ died for our sins . . .
     and that He was buried . . .
     and that He was raised . . .
     and that He was seen . . .
                                          (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

     The grammar and sentence structure of this passage in 1 Corinthians 15 is extremely important because Biblical theology should be based on exegesis, or getting our understanding of the Bible out of what the text actually says (as opposed to eisegesis which is reading our own ideas into the text). Charles Ryrie affirms: "Biblical theology stands in the closest connection to exegesis, for it builds directly upon it."2  
     The second concern I have is that if "faith is never seen" like the objection says, then why did the resurrected Jesus appear to doubting Thomas and say to him, "Reach your finger here, and LOOK AT MY HANDS; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing" (John 20:27, NKJV). Clearly, seeing Jesus does not invalidate believing in Him or nullify one's faith in Christ. Remember how the resurrected Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus. Actually, that's how Saul got converted! You can read all about it in Acts chapters 9:1-19, 22:1-21, 26:1-18, and 1 Corinthians 15:8.
     The third point I'd like to make is in response to when the objector asks, "if you include verse five why not verse six too, or seven or eight or the whole Bible?" There are several reasons why 1 Corinthians 15:5 is part of the Gospel, but not verse 6, 7, or 8.

7 Reasons Why 1 Corinthians 15:5 is Part of the Gospel3
(but not 1 Corinthians 15:6, 7, or 8)

  1. The coordinating conjunction "and" at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15:5
  2. The use of the content conjunction "that" at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15:5
  3. The "third day" theme continues to the end of 1 Corinthians 15:5
  4. The grammatical break at the end of 1 Corinthians 15:5
  5. The non-Pauline language of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 indicates an earlier tradition
  6. The preaching of the apostles included Christ's resurrection appearances to them 
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:5 depicts a bodily resurrection which is an essential element of the Gospel

To be continued . . . 


FOOTNOTES:

1 This objection is found online on the Grace Life Baptist Church website in their "Plan of Salvation" statement under the heading "Common Errors Perpetrated on the Gospel".

2 Charles Ryrie, Biblical Theology of the New Testament, p. 16.

3 For more information and elaboration on these seven reasons, see my article "Getting the Gospel Right," pages 7-10 in the PDF file. In the article, I actually give fifteen reasons why 1 Corinthians 15:5 is part of the Gospel.