In our ‘What is Worship’ series, we explore essential truths that lead us to discover true worship of the Creator.
People frequently define faith in many ways, either partly or completely contrary to the biblical definition. Some say that faith is ‘believing in the absence of evidence’, or ‘trusting in something that is true for you’ though that more closely resembles fantasy, fables or even foolishness. Is faith a vague and nebular concept to explain the unexplained? Is faith a complete ‘leap in the dark’? Is faith an entirely personal and subjective matter or is there much more to true saving faith in the God of the Bible?
Let us firstly consider an example of faith using the illustration of flying, to show how faith is commonly exercised. One must trust the pilot to navigate their way to the intended destination safely. One trusts that the engineers have constructed the plane well enough to withstand the rigours of being airborne and carrying passengers and cargo. Though never having been to a destination you can sensibly assume that it exists having seen photographs and having spoken to rational and trustworthy people at the other end. The reliability of passengers that have travelled before, the general safety record of aeroplanes and having been to other destinations and speaking with reliable witnesses that such a place exists, gives you every reasonable indication that you should arrive at your desired terminus in one piece.
But how does the Bible define faith? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).” Clearly then faith involves reasonable evidence though faith is much more than giving intellectual assent to a proposition. Hebrews 11 charts the history of characters in the Bible since the dawn of history and shows how they trusted God because of what they knew about God.
Faith requires knowledge, belief, and action. It is not a leap in the dark or believing in something in the absence of evidence. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the classic example is that of Charles Blondin, the dare-devil French tight rope walker who crossed Niagara falls. He carried people at times on the same tight rope. People said that they believed that he could carry them across though the ones who had complete faith in him were the ones who crossed over with him.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac since he reasoned that God could raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19; c.f. Genesis 22:1-19) because he believed in God’s promises that would come through Isaac. God of course told Abraham to withhold his hand and not to harm Isaac though saw that Abraham trusted him and was exercising faith through obedience to God.
This is also an illustration of Jesus the Messiah being the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The most famous verse in the Bible John 3:16 states that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We therefore need to have faith in God, and this is reasonable since God has revealed Himself through creation, has given us a conscience and has sent His Son Yeshua who is the promised Messiah who rose from the grave. God has given us the holy Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us into all truth. Faith in God inevitably requires actively trusting and relying upon God each day.