WHAT IS FAITH?

The highest pinnacle of the spiritual life is not joy in unbroken sunshine, but absolute and undoubting trust in the love of God. –A. W. Thorold

One definition of faith is “… belief with strong conviction; firm belief in something for which there may be no tangible proof; complete trust in or devotion to. Faith is the opposite of doubt.”

Some people believe that faith is a leap in the dark – an insecure, insubstantial foundation on which to build the edifice of one’s life. They believe that faith is wishful thinking or the irrational thinking of small superstitious minds.

This perception of faith results from the materialistic mindset of the world. People under the influence of this way of thinking will not believe in anything unless they can see it or prove it by the scientific method. A thing must be capable of being demonstrated through experimentation or logical analysis for it to be true. If it can’t be seen, it can’t be real. This is really to say that there are no unseen realities.

But this mindset is the one that is unrealistic. Even those who claim to be rationalists in denying the spiritual hold to many things they can’t see, perform experiments on or prove by logic. Those who hold to the “big bang” theory do so, not without evidence, but without being able to reproduce the events they believe operative in causing the big bang. At least those who hold this concept have moved a step closer to those who believe that God created the universe because they grant the evident fact that the universe had a beginning.

But even further, those who believe that life evolved from lower forms of life which emerged from non-living matter hold their belief on exactly the same basis as those of us who believe God created all things. Theirs is an unproven and unprovable theory. They hold to organic evolution as faith regardless of their claim that it is a scientific fact. Theirs really a leap in the dark!

The definition of faith given above does not say that faith is believing without evidence. It says that sometimes there is no “tangible” evidence for a thing believed. That means you can’t touch the evidence, measure it with a ruler or weigh it on the scales. You can’t put it under a microscope and examine it. Can you quantify love? Have you ever seen your mind? What is the dimension or weight of a thought? Yet these things exist. We know they exist because of what we see them do.

You can’t see God. You can’t put him in a laboratory and measure him. Yet you can see the evidence that points to his existence and his power.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork
.” (Psalm 19:1).

The apostle Paul says that those who do not believe in God are without excuse because there is enough evidence in creation to bring people to believe in his divine nature and power.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20).

The Bible is the special record and revelation of God’s being and love beyond that revelation found in nature. It tells us of his personal nature – that he is a God of love, mercy and grace, but also of judicial wrath against sin, injustice and oppression. That special revelation of himself provides us, through faith, a secure foundation for not only our individual lives, but for our families, the church, our communities, our nation and our world.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3).

This verse tells us that faith is the “assurance” of things hoped for. The KJV says that faith is the “substance,” that is, the substantial foundation of things hoped for that gives hope reality. If there is no ground for expecting that for which we hope, then all we have is a wish with no idea whatsoever we will ever receive that for which we hope. Faith in a faithful God assures us that what we hope for we will receive. God has promised and he is keeps his promises.

People down through the ages have put their lives in God’s hands because they believe, not only in his existence, but in his love and promises. Without faith in him – trusting in his goodness, mercy and love – we cannot come to him nor receive the blessings he has to pour out on us in extravagant abundance.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

You see, the faith that God is looking for is faith in himself as he has revealed himself to us in the person of his only begotten Son. It is not faith in a set of doctrines. It is not belief in a creed. It is not being confident on one’s own self. Faith is trusting implicitly in God as a person. This is how Paul expressed his own faith …

“… But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:12).

“I know whom” – not what. It is faith in a “whom” that saves us. It is faith in a person who has loved us more than anyone else could love us that saves us. It is that kind of faith that moves us to respond to him in loving obedience. It is faith in Jesus who is the Son of God that will safeguard us until we reach that eternal home he has prepared for us. Do you really believe in him?

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