Objective Versus Subjective Faith
By Fred O. Blakely
There are two ways of seeking the knowledge of God's will. The popular method is the subjective approach, where man seeks inside himself for some clue that might indicate the leading of God. In this way, a person simply acts out what he feels led to do. The other method is the objective approach, where man seeks outside of himself, finding out, first of all, what God has revealed and what He requires. In this way, a person acts in response to God's law rather than to subjective feeling. 
The Source of Objectivism. God has not left us at the whim of naked conscience. He has not left us to search through trial and error in pragmatic situations until we find His will. Instead, He has given us the revelation of His will through the inspired writings of the Bible. This is the whole purpose of biblical writings, not merely to give us a history to satisfy our curious interests, but to reveal Himself and His purposes, and how we as His creatures may fulfill those purposes. 
The sin of Adam was to ignore the expressed will of God—the Word that God had spoken—and seek experimentally to find out about life. Satan's approach was the subjective one. “Ye shall not surely die," he said, contradicting the plain statement of God. “Ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:3-5). What he meant was, “Do not heed the expressed Word of God. Act upon your feelings. Experience things yourself. Then you will be acting like God, deciding good and evil for yourself, by experience." It was a great experience, all right, but it cost Adam and Eve and their descendants very dearly. 
The Old Testament history is one of objectivism versus subjectivism. God set forth the facts and expressed His will. Obviously, the keeping of a command would be the fulfillment of God's purpose, so that anyone seeking His will could know that he was doing it by obeying. But the history is filled with the rejection of God's command. "Every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Jdgs. 17:6). That is, each man "felt" what he did was right, with no regard for the expressed will of God. Belief requires an object. One may make up his own object and believe in it with all his heart. That's subjective faith. Christian belief requires that one believe in that which is set forth as fact by Christ and the Apostles. That's objective faith.
The Place of the Gospel. The gospel, which one must believe to be saved, consists of the facts of Christ's death and resurrection and what is accomplished thereby. In addition to the gospel facts, there are the express statements about the eternal state in which God's people shall live in the new creation under perfect circumstances where they reflect God's Image and abide in His will. 
The obvious reason for God revealing all of this is so that man might consider what God desires and either align himself with that divine purpose or reject it. This is objective faith, to believe in and commit ourselves to the purpose God has revealed. It is to ask, "Do I really want the life that God designs? Do I want to be disciplined and chastened and transformed through many tribulations and painful trials in order to become what God wants me to be? Do I want to obey the commands which are ridiculous in the eyes of men? Do I want to be a citizen of the heavenly kingdom and at enmity with the popular and acceptable of this world (Phil. 3:20; Heb. 12:7-8; I Jn. 2:15-17)? 
The preaching of the gospel is to set forth the truth of Christ in order that men might believe and obey it. This truth involves (1) the doctrine of sin, that man is a sinner and as such will perish because he does not fulfill the purpose of God; (2) that Christ paid the Penalty for man's sin by undergoing the judgmental death in the believer's stead; (3) that He arose from the dead, demonstrating the acceptance of His sacrifice with God and that the saints also will arise; and (4) that He ascended to the throne of power and thus has power to bring to fulfillment God's purpose for each believer. 
These facts of the gospel were not learned through man's subjective search inside himself, but were revealed by God through the Scriptures (I Jn. 5:10-11). They are true, no matter how men feel about them. Objective faith is to believe them, in spite of how one feels. It is to obey when feelings would lead us on another course. 
The Way to True Assurance. With relation to the action of God, objective faith is to believe what God has done in sending Christ to die and rise again from death. With relation to God's feeling toward us, objective faith is to believe what God has said. 
We can know the Mind of God only as He reveals it, and that only by His Word. We cannot understand God's Mind by how we feel, nor by what we experience. One may be struck dumb with awe as he considers the handiwork of God in the heavens, but such majestic glory says nothing to him about whether or not he is forgiven of sin. In fact, it is likely to make him more aware of his weak and sinful nature than ever.
Forgiveness takes place in the Mind of God, not in us. If I step on your toe, I have offended you. Any forgiveness must take place in your mind, not in my own. Should I obtain a "feeling" that it is all right, since I didn't mean any harm, and therefore conclude that I am forgiven, it would not change your feeling toward me or effect forgiveness on your part. I might convince myself that I am forgiven and that we are on good terms because I have such an emotional feeling about it all, when. in reality you might be quite angry with me, and justifiably so. The forgiveness must come from you. It must take place in your mind, not in mine. The only assurance of forgiveness I could have would be for you to tell me that you had forgiven me. 
Sin is against God. We may work up a feeling, as Johnny Cash says in a popular song, "I'm working on a feeling.” But in the day of judgment we might find that God doesn't share that feeling at all, and we will stand condemned. "Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord" (Heb. 10:30).
The Responsibility for Obedience. It is our responsibility to learn what God requires, not to become “as God, knowing good and evil" (Gen 3:5. ASV); that is, deciding for ourselves and by our experiences and feelings whether or not God has forgiven us. Faith is to believe, not only what God has done about sin, but what He says about our forgiveness. Genuine assurance can be ours, not on the basis of what we feel about it, but on the basis of God's promise. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). 
That is the promise. It is about as clear as language could make it. Many have misunderstood this, and object to it, saying that it is adding our works to God's grace. But baptism is no more a "work" than is faith. We are not saved by grace plus baptism, any more than we are saved by grace plus faith. The salvation is effected by Christ in His death. Baptism is the application of that death to the believer. “All we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death" (Rom. 6:3, ASV). And “he that hath died [with Christ] is justified from sin" (v. 7). God has promised to save us when we are baptized. So we believe this. 
This is objective faith in God. If we refuse to believe it, it is unbelief on our part. This is because to believe God is to believe that He will do what He says He will do—save us when we believe and are baptized. To believe and act upon this faith is not to rely on our works or on our feelings, or on anything about ourselves. 
It is to place faith solely and completely upon what God does and says. This is the ground for our assurance—that God keeps His Word, and our sins are remitted when He said they would be—when we believe and are baptized unto the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). 
This kind of faith takes God at His Word, accepting the fact that therein He reveals His Mind and means what He reveals. How else can we know that we are forgiven? The forgiveness is in God's Mind. No amount of feeling, no amount of weeping, no amount of repenting, or the deepest traumatic experience can assure us of what God thinks about us. All of that is in ourselves—it is subjective. It is what God says that counts. And when we have the assurance from Him, then comes the feeling of joy, of release from guilt, and the experience of "all joy and peace in believing" (Rom. 15:13).
Objectivism and Scriptural Hope. Objective faith takes in the sovereignty of God—that "power belongeth unto God," and that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Ps. 62:11; Rom. 8:28). Instead of holding seances (called prayer groups by the subjective sect) to try to get an inside track on all the events of tomorrow, the true believer has faith that God is in control of tomorrow as well as today, and that He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). The trustful soul does not have to know the details of the future in order to go contentedly about his daily work. He is not anxious about the morrow, for God has promised to provide as He sees the need. This is a feeling of great comfort, based not upon feeling itself, but upon the promise of God and His own Word that He is in control. 
Objective faith is comprehensive. It reaches back to the creation and forward to the ultimate and eternal goal. Christ has "abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (II Tim. 1:10), demonstrating by His own resurrection that His chosen—all whom God has given Him—shall rise from the grave and be like Him in the glorified body forever. This is not because of an inward grace felt in one's heart, but because of the grace whereby Christ tasted death for us (even, for every man), so that we are cleansed from sin and freed from its penalty. Since the sin-penalty is fully paid, we can have life with God through His Son. 
This is the objective hope of the true believer. The Apostles saw Christ after He rose from the dead. It was not a subjective feeling that motivated them to preach the resurrection in the face of bitter persecution and hatred from the Jews, who stoned them, jailed them, and tried to stamp them out. It was not a feeling, but a fact. It was objective truth which they proclaimed and which is set forth for us in their writings.
Before His death, Jesus took the cup and said, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many unto the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28, ASV). Sins. That is the problem. Sin mars the creature and dooms him. God provides the solution through the gospel. He is calling out a people—a people who trust Him, believing that He cleanses them from sin according to His Word. The greatest sin of all (and the basis of all other sins) is to disbelieve God. He intends to people the new creation with these believers, who now have life through His Son and will then be given glorious and incorruptible bodies. This is God's stated purpose in Christ, certified as to its immutability by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. How dare anyone to follow his own faulty inclinations and think his subjective feelings can take the place of objective faith in God?  God has magnified His Word above all His Name (cf. Ps. 138:2).