Faith… Ask twenty different people to describe it, and you’ll likely get twenty different descriptions. To some people, faith simply meansbelief . That belief can be in virtually anything or anybody. For some, the term has a spiritual connotation first and foremost. For others, faith is simply a generic concept that can be applied to most anything.
Many people have a difficult time explaining faith. For them it may be something more subjectively felt than objectively reasoned and understood. They feel strongly about their faith, it fills the need to believe in something that they cannot really prove empirically. Critics often refer to such faith as blind faith, or a blind leap in the dark!
In reality, faith is defined and held on two different planes. Faith means one thing in the secular, physical realm of life. On that side of life faith is largely relative, subjective, open to all kinds of personal interpretations and applications. On the spiritual side of life, however, true faith is objective. It is based on evidence and rooted in logical reasoning.
The Hebrews writer clearly defines faith with the terms “substance”and “evidence” ( Heb. 11:1 ). Those words do not describe subjective feelings driven primarily by emotion and subject to change based on a change in personal feelings. The words “substance” and “evidence”suggest conclusions arrived at based on empirical data. Indeed, Paul identified faith as coming by learning God’s word ( Rom. 10:17 ).
True faith, that spoken of in the New Testament, is never hinted at as being blind belief . It is belief that is based on the reality of the facts. A skeptic might object, pointing to Paul’s statement “For we walk by faith, not by sight” ( 2 Cor. 5:7 ). Remember, however, that it was Paul who pointedly identified faith as being based on the facts of God’s word (Rom. 10:17 ). Did Paul contradict himself in these different passages of scripture?
Not at all! We cannot see the wind, but we see the evidence of its existence as it blows. We cannot see electricity, but we know that it exists through the evidence of its effects that can be clearly observed. These are crude comparisons, but they serve to make the point. We cannot visibly look upon God in this world, but His evidence is all around us, in this world, through His very creation and ordering of it (Rom. 1:18-20 ). While we cannot see Him with our physical eyes, we can clearly see the evidence of His existence. That evidence demandsfaith in Him!
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be studying faith in a rather detailed fashion on Sunday mornings. The study will be based in scripture. Whether your faith is strong or weak, this study should help you a great deal, if you will seriously and diligently put yourself into it! Please pray for me as I prepare and present these lessons, and may God guide us all in our study together…
Gary L. Hutchens