What is Faith?
Faith is a word that gets tossed around by any number of people, and can have severaldifferent meanings. Unfortunately, it often gets thrown out as an accusation against Christians by skeptics of various stripes. Even well-meaning Christians have sometimes thought faith was only a virtue when it was a firm belief in the face of contrary evidence or arguments!
Friends, faith is neither of these things.
“Aren’t we supposed to believe without seeing?” Not exactly. The passages in the Bible that talk about faith don’t put it in negative terms, but rather they put it in positive terms, and that helps us understand what faith is. The famous “faith chapter” of Hebrews 11 has several examples of faith in action. Even in the opening verse, when it says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (emphasis mine) the stress is on how assurance and conviction are aspects of faith.
Contrary to what famous Atheists might say, faith is not looking at a mountain of evidence and saying “well, I have faith that my position is true, even against all that”! Rather, it is closer to saying that you have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow. You have faith in the sun rising because of the evidence you have gained over however many years, of the sun doing the exact same thing every day. In the same way, we have numerous examples in the Bible of people having faith in God because they observed Him acting over many years, and they trusted that He would do as He said He would.
Historically, faith has had three aspects: Knowledge, Trust, and Assent. We gain the knowledge, or the facts, of what God has done in the past. We agree with the knowledge that we have gained (assent). Finally, we trust that God will do what He has promised.
Ultimately, all faith must have an object. The object of our faith is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We have good reasons and evidence to trust that God will do as He promises. There can be no firmer foundation than that of the living God.