The Expository Files

 

Faith Facts


The Bible teaches the absolute necessity of faith. Jesus said, "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24). The Scriptures state, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6).

Faith is not "blind". Biblical, saving faith is not a "blind leap." Let's consider some things about faith.

Faith Defined
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1). I do not know, but perhaps this is where someone got the idea about faith being blind. But "the conviction of things not seen" does not mean blind. If someone I trust makes a promise to me, say, that if I'll walk to the top of the next hill I'll be able to see the town toward which I am traveling, I will likely believe it and start walking. I will have assurance even though I have not seen it with my own eyes.

Faith is believing and acting upon God's promises concerning things we have not yet seen. It is not blind.
I believe in lots of things I have never seen. I believe in radio waves and magnetic fields and the other side of the moon. I have evaluated the evidence and heard the testimony of others and believe in these things. That's faith.

Faith is an Act of Mind
Many today think that faith is anti-intellectual. That there is reason on one side and faith on the other. This, too, is a very great misunderstanding of what faith really is. For true Biblical faith to exist at all, the mind must be involved.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17). Faith entails the hearing and understanding of the message of Christ. Notice also what verse nine says about belief: that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; (Romans 10:9). What is this "heart" that we are to believe with?

It is not mere emotion. It is not the physical muscle in the chest that pumps blood. It is not feeling. Rather, it is the center of man's intellect, emotion and will. A good synonym would be the word "mind." This can be seen through what the Bible says we do with the "heart."

Ways in Which the Human Heart Functions
The Bible says we do lots of things "with the heart" which, when taken together, show that the heart refers to the human mind. When we talk of a heart of faith we mean a mind of faith.

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?" (Matthew 9:4). Right away, we begin to see that the heart includes more than feelings. Jesus said that we "think" in our hearts. He also discussed "understanding with their heart" (Matthew 13:15). Obviously, the intellect is integral to what the Bible refers to as the heart and the things we do with it.

But there is more. Human beings "reason" with the heart. But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, (Mark 2:6). So, when the bible talks about faith, or believing with the heart, it is not talking about something opposed to thinking or reasoning.

Consider other things the Bible says we do with the heart. We ponder with it (Luke 2:19) and conceive ideas in it (Acts 5:4). We can lust with it (Romans 1:24) or purpose/plan with it (2 Corinthians 9:7). When one obeys the gospel, he or she obeys "from the heart" (Romans 6:17)

So, given this information about the heart, it is no wonder that we have suggested that the word "heart" as used in God's word refers to the human mind and not mere emotion. In fact, "heart" and "mind" are sometimes used interchangeably in the Scripture. The Hebrew writer says, for example, "THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM," (Hebrews 11:16)

Since Bible faith involves the heart, and since the heart involves intellect and reason, it is entirely wrong to think that faith and reason are in opposition. It just is not so. Faith is reasonable if it is what God intended. Christians ought to prepare themselves to make a reasonable defense of their faith. We are told, "...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;" (1 Peter 3:15). The word "defense" means a reasonable and logical explanation.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1) Here, Paul describes the service we render unto our God by faith. He describes it as "spiritual" service. The word translated "spiritual" is the Greek word logiken and is the word from which we get our English word "logic".

Finding Faith
Earlier, we saw that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). The Bible shows that God holds us responsible for attaining faith. Faith is a gift given by the Lord through His word, but we must choose to receive it. God does not make that decision for us, as Luther, Calvin and others have taught, and are still teaching. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." (John 5:24).

It is up to us to hear and believe. God's instrument for producing faith is the word of the gospel. It is each individual who must choose whether to allow it into his or her heart, and each will be judged based on his or her decision.

Genuine faith in Jesus Christ is based on evidence. It is not vague or blind or irrational. It is nothing to be ashamed of and we do not have to "check our brains at the door." Without this faith, it is impossible to please God. Live by faith. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 13.10; October 2006

 

 

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