Faith: The Substance and the Evidence
The Greek word for faith, pistis, is derived from the verb pisteuo, which means “to convince by argument.” Hebrews 11:1 explains that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Some translations replace “conviction” with “evidence.” Faith, then, is being convinced that the things we can’t see (e.g., God, heaven, the resurrection, etc.) are real.
The word “faith” is so often misunderstood that I avoid using it in most conversations. I use a different word in its place: trust. This better characterizes the Bible’s use of faith, but is free of the misleading baggage. Biblical faith, then, is not blind, but functions the same way as trust. You don’t blindly trust people. They have to earn it. You put your trust in people you have good reason to trust.
Biblical faith is also not contrary to reason. It’s consistent with reason. You put your trust (faith) in what you have good reason to believe is true. [God] routinely reminds the Israelites why they can trust Him (put their faith in Him). God is the One who delivered them from slavery. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2) This is repeated over and over and over. (Exodus 13:3, 13:14, 33:1; Leviticus 25:38; Deuteronomy 5:6, 6:12, etc.) That’s why the Jews can trust—put their faith in—God.
Jesus also operated with this understanding of faith. John wrote 21 chapters about Jesus in his Gospel, and much of it records supernatural works. Why? He explains, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31) In other words, you can trust Christ because His miraculous works are a testament to His claims and credibility.
Some people have the idea that running on faith means running on nothing. Faith is not nothing! “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” It’s knowing God and that God is and that God is going to take care of you somehow, if you obey Him and do His will. Real faith knows and it happens: it never fails! God is still the God of the faithful and the believing.
With faith, believing is seeing. A little mustard seed of faith can move mountains, but how many mountains fail to be moved for lack of that tiny seed of faith? You must be willing to act by faith on what God has shown you, or it could never happen!
You know, the world’s motto is “Seeing is believing! If I see it, then I’ll believe it.” Well, that’s not God’s motto. The motto of God’s Word is “Believing is seeing!” If you’ll just believe and trust God’s Word and trust Him and obey Him, God will give you the answers. You will eventually see what you’re supposed to do and where you’re supposed to go and how to do it. I have found that so many times.
Great faith chooses God in spite of the other possibilities. “For without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to Him must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) “For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!” In other words, you’ve really already got it!
Accepting faith through His Word is a work of God’s grace. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy … For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God.” (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8–9)
God is still the God of the faithful and the believing, and He’s proven that it can still be done, that we can still believe and trust in Him by faith. God bless us with more faith!
—David Brandt Berg
Faith Equals Trust
In today’s culture, the word “faith” comes with too much baggage. For many, faith is a blind, arbitrary leap in the dark that has no relationship to reason, evidence, or knowledge. So let me make a suggestion. Let’s use the word “trust” instead. “Trust” accurately communicates the biblical idea of faith. In addition, it helps us reunite true faith with reason, evidence, and knowledge. Why? Because we know people only put their trust in what they have good reason to believe is true.
What, then, do I mean by “faith?” Again, there are two ways of understanding this term. On the one hand, one might mean the content of the (Christian) religion. In this sense, “faith” is used to designate the truth claims of the Christian worldview. We might in this sense contrast the tenets of the Christian faith with, for example, those of the Muslim faith. When we speak of faith in this sense we mean a body of doctrines. To say that faith is reasonable in this sense is to claim that these doctrines are rational for a person to hold.
On the other hand, “faith” may be taken to mean the act of believing. According to the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther, faith in this sense has three components. First, there is notitia, or understanding. That is, one must understand the truth claim being made. Second, there is assensus, or assent. One must accept intellectually that the claim is, in fact, true. One not only understands it; he assents to it or agrees with it. Finally, there is fiducia, or trust. Saving faith involves not merely intellectual assent to some doctrines but a wholehearted commitment or trust in God, about whom the claims are made. To say that Christian faith is reasonable in this sense is to say that believing in the God of the Bible is a rational thing for a person to do. To take the step of faith is a reasonable step for an intelligent and informed person.
—William Lane Craig
Christians in all disciplines of inquiry and discovery have used their reasoning power to investigate the evidence. Christians are not irrational, and Christian faith is not blind. The rich intellectual history of Christianity calls each of us to have a reasonable, examined, evidential, case-making faith. This kind of faith honors God and withstands skeptical criticism and personal doubt.
—J. Warner Wallace
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