“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NASB).
Whether we acknowledge it, we all possess faith. We all worship someone (e.g. ourselves) or something. For most of us—possibly all of us—we worship that which we perceive as truth; thereby, placing our faith in it. Our faith in that truth is what establishes our beliefs; subsequently, driving our actions.
How does it establish our beliefs?
Glad that you asked 😉
Faith fills two roles—or rather, holes or gaps—for establishing belief. Faith creates the foundation on which our knowledge is structured, while also serving as the lens for attributing it meaning. In other words, the interpretative process for transitioning from knowledge (information) into belief (or conviction of purpose) is faith. It serves as our basis for discerning truth:
Faith, in many respects, is blind. We cannot see everything, but we develop convictions based on how we interpret the known. For many, their faith is placed in scientific rationalism. The appeal is reasonable; particularly, with our natural and insecure compulsions for control. Many (but not all) professed scientists seem to claim that their beliefs are solely founded in fact. They often state their facts to be truth equivalents. They claim that they don’t possess faith. Such philosophical belief, however, provides a myopic and misleading interpretation of truth.
A fact is simply a known observation—it’s what we know (i.e. see the gray box in the earlier illustration). There are some significant flaws in believing that fact and truth are synonymous, especially if we’re claiming that we don’t act on faith. For instance: we don’t know what we don’t know. Science represents our best efforts to understand the known universe as we live in this existence. While it provides a better understanding of our world, we’re still far from attaining a full understanding—if it’s even possible. Therefore, by necessity, we must make some decisions from faith. However, by placing our faith in science, are we placing faith in creation instead of its Creator?
If the answer to my question is “yes,” then—whether or not intended—we’re attempting to fill our Creator’s role. We’re rebelling against our Creator. Consider this: Why does a potter mold clay, glaze it, and fire it in a kiln; turning it into a cup? A potter turns clay into a cup with the purpose of creating a drinking vessel; creating with a specific purpose. The cup does not give itself purpose. And what good is the cup, if no one drinks from it? Moreover, why would the potter invest time into creating a cup if it didn’t serve a purpose?
Now, to purposely function in this life, we must operate with some form of truth as our guide, correct? As stated earlier, that is what we worship and follow—that which we perceive as truth. If we’re working under the assumption that there’s only the natural world, then I’d probably consider science to be our best option for developing a working (versus definitive) truth. Though, what if our natural world is impacted by a supernatural one? What if we’re incapable—as human beings—of seeing reality in full? Christianity maintains this position. Consider the apostle Paul’s message to the church in Corinth:
For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:9-12, NASB).
If we’re only seeing in part, how true are “evidence-based” facts? How much faith should we place in a partial truth? Partial truths are dangerous, because they can function as lies. And if deceived by partial truths, we can be led to act outside of actual truth.
Consider that it was once a “fact” that the world was flat; ignoring the horizon line that was visible in every direction. They knew what they could see. Yet, they were unaware of what they should’ve been looking for, and the forces around them (e.g. centrifugal force, gravity).
Who says that we, in this day and age, aren’t making our own egregious generalizations from the information (i.e. facts) that we know? Most likely, in some perceived truth, we have incorrectly interpreted facts into fallacy. Again, we don’t know everything. That’s why science operates with theories, and not truths. Therefore, we should be cautious not to mistake theory for truth.
I believe that science was never meant to be the foundation for our meaning and purpose; serving more as a resource for understanding our environments better. If my belief is sound, then where should we place our faith? What represents truth? What gives us meaning and purpose?
Again, glad that you asked 😉
Hopefully, now, we can all acknowledge that—whether it’s placed in science, religion, or something else—we all possess faith. And I believe that there is only one source where our faith can be well-placed: Our Creator. For it’s the architect of creation who can definitively tell us why we were created and for what purpose.
Yet, as a Christian, my faith is placed in a person. That person is Jesus of Nazareth, who is better known as Jesus Christ. How can this be? How can I place my faith in a Jewish carpenter who lived nearly two thousand years ago? My answer to these questions: Jesus is the Son of God. He is our Creator (Colossians 1:16-17, NASB)—a person in the Holy Trinity:
Jesus’ birth was foretold in prophecy, and was confirmed by the stars. He is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14-18). He has always existed, and was present at the beginning of creation (John 1:1-5; 1 Peter 1:20). He came to Earth in the form of man to fulfill God’s promises (e.g. Genesis 12:3; 2 Samuel 7:12; Luke 1:31-33), which included fulfilling the divinely-inspired (thus moral) Mosaic Law (Matthew 5:17-18), and dying for the world’s sins (Matthew 20:28). He serves as a perfect sacrifice for His imperfect people (1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 9:13-15). And in doing so, Jesus establishes a new covenant with us (Matthew 26:26-28).
Now that Jesus has conquered sin (1 John 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Romans 6:18-23), we can enjoy eternal life through faith in Him (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). He is our refuge, and our only way to the kingdom of heaven (John 10:9; 14:6; 15:1-11, NASB). Being the physical manifestation of truth, grace, love, and righteousness for us to follow (1 John 2:6), He serves as the narrow way that leads to salvation. Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit will work in us, until one day, we possess a glorified body (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:47-48); allowing us the blessing of eternal relationship with our Lord.
When placing our faith in Jesus Christ, He becomes our foundation for understanding what we know, and our lens for discerning truth; allowing the Holy Spirit to grace us with true (i.e. Godly) wisdom. By faithfully following Jesus, our identity will gradually conform to mirror His heart and mind (John 3:30; 14:21; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 12:1-2). Through Christ alone may we act in deed from Truth (1 John 3:18).
With our identity in Christ, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) should be seen in our lives. Like Jesus, we should exemplify what it means to love God and love others (Luke 10:25-37). With joy, we should willingly share the good news; serving as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our desires should reflect His desires, because our purpose will align with His (John 15:7). We will live for God’s glory and our joy (which should not be confused with temporal happiness). During this life, we should live in faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
For those skeptical, science-oriented types out there: No scientific method is capable of confirming Christ’s divinity. Though—as researchers should know—the scientific method rarely proves anything. More often, it supports the likelihood of something. Furthermore, the scientific method is based on an understanding of the natural world. It inherently refutes the supernatural (i.e. what it can’t see). If science could capture the supernatural, then it’d only be natural, right? 😛
The irony is that many individuals extrapolate something being possible without factual evidence in science, but use such hypothetical deduction justifiably in scientific experiments. Yet, many of these same individuals would find it folly to believe that Someone created what they’re examining through their scientific, faith-oriented lenses. Science believes in cause and effect, but succumbs to a logic issue when considering the origination of creation from nothing. What starts that which hasn’t been started yet? Someone or something that exists outside of it would be my thought; therefore, not necessarily explainable within that creation.
What shouldn’t be questioned, however, is the historicity of Christian scripture. Using scientific methods of inquiry, the New Testament’s historicity (i.e. acceptability as a history) is strongly supported (and this linked article is fascinating—I’d encourage all to read it). Moreover, the person of Jesus is well-documented through other ancient sources that support the New Testament’s depictions of Jesus from nonbeliever perspectives.
Essentially—if accepting the possibility of the supernatural (which would be necessary to accept belief in the divine)—the facts surrounding Jesus and the New Testament’s teachings provide support to His divinity. At minimum—even for the most skeptical—following scientific inquiry, they’d be reasonably defensible. As much so as the theories of evolution and global warming.
In other words, regardless of where it’s placed, faith (and hope) will be necessary until the Lord’s second coming. After His second coming, all that will be present in the lives of His followers is love (1 Corinthins 13:8-13) because faith will be unnecessary when all hopes are fulfilled. Being free from sin, we’ll reside in a world that fully operates in love. We’ll enjoy a perfect existence in the presence of our loving Lord; giving Him praise and worship forever. This is why Christ’s followers share His good news, because we lovingly wish for all to know God, love God (which occurs for anyone who knows God), place their faith in Him, follow Him, and enjoy the life to come with Him (John 5:24). While we all deserve condemnation (Romans 3:10-12; Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3), none of us should wish the bad news on anyone (John 3:18-19; Romans 5:12).
No wonder Jesus states that to believe without being able to see [physical evidence] is a blessing (John 20:19-29), and Paul explains to the early church that faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Fortunately, faith is possible for any who seek and receive Him; accepting His gift (John 1:12; Revelation 3:20). And if we accept His gift, we’ll be able to see it in our actions (John 13:35). Through His gift of the Holy Spirit (John 16:5-7), we’ll produce fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).
We must be careful, however, to claim faith in Christ with our words but not with our hearts. We musn’t be white-washed tombs (Matthew 23:27-28). Faith in Christ is not intended as an insurance policy; allowing us to continue living in sin knowingly—without eternal recourse. Our Lord knows our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 17:10; Proverbs 15:11; Psalm 44:21; 69:5; Romans 2:16). Those of us who choose such an approach should not—on the Day of Judgment—expect to receive the salvation we claim to possess through faith in Christ (Matthew 7:21-27).
With true faith, there is no half-way. There is no option to possess a Jesus+ faith (in something else). True faith—as scripturally defined (Hebrews 11:1)—necessitates hope in what cannot be seen. If we place our faith in the world, then we shall pledge ourselves to the wisdom of the world, which isn’t the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 2). To place our faith in Jesus, requires us to believe in His divinity. It requires that we trust that He speaks (i.e. is) Truth, and to follow Him brings forth goodness and loving righteousness:
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones (Proverbs 3:3-8, NASB).
I have faith in Christ. I believe that we can trust God, who loved us while we were yet sinners. Our God sacrificed His own Son for our sins (Romans 5:8). Jesus is the bread of life, and the source of living water (John 4:13-14). Those who believe in Him shall no longer hunger and thirst (John 6:33-35).
Has anyone done more for us? No (1 Colossians 1:16)
What have we done for Christ? Nothing, unless we’re following Him (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 15:58)
Who is greater than God? No one (John 10:29; 1 Samuel 2:2)
Who can rightfully question Him? No one (Job 33)
So, now that I’ve shared my faith, my question for you is this: where do you place yours?