I will provide four Biblical examples to establish faith is more than wishing. I’d like to show there is no inconsistency between knowing something is true and having faith in it.
In Exodus 3 we see Moses going out into the wilderness and encountering a burning bush where God gave him the directive to go back to Egypt and ask Pharaoh to let His people go. Moses then asked God why anyone would believe he speaks for Him. God told him to pick up his staff and throw it down. It turned into a serpent. God said pick up the serpent and it turned back into a staff. God said now do these miracles and others before the Jewish people and Pharaoh. He then told Moses I will produce hail, frogs, and turn the Nile River into blood. And through you I will put the sun out and more.
Exodus 7:17 “Thus says the LORD, ‘By this you shall know that I am the LORD…’” Did notice the key phrase? “By this you shall know.” This phrase is repeated over and over again throughout this miraculous account. God did these visible acts of power, not so the people of Israel could hope or wish or believe the unbelievable, but so that they could know. When Pharaoh asked Moses why should I let your people go, Moses demonstrated God’s power. God didn’t tell Moses to ask Pharaoh to take it by faith. He gave evidence; powerful proof that God was in fact working through Moses.
In Mark 2 we see Jesus preaching in a house. Most are familiar with the story where the friends open the roof and let the paralytic down. Jesus said to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” The people immediately got angry because who could forgive sins but God alone?
Jesus understood what they were thinking and He said: “What’s harder to say, your sins are forgiven, or to rise, take up your pallet and go home?” For me it would be harder to say, arise, take up your pallet and go home. I can go into a room and say your sins are forgiven and nobody is going to know exactly what I am talking about. But if I lay hands on somebody in a wheelchair and I say, take up your wheelchair and go home, and they sit there, I will look pretty dumb.
Jesus is going to do both. In order to support His power to forgive sins, which cannot be observed, He does the impossible and heals a paralytic, which can be observed. Jesus said, “In order that you may know that the Son of Man has the power and authority to forgive sins, I say to you, arise, take up your pallet and go home.” And the man got up and walked out. Notice the phrase, “In order that you may know.” Here we see the very same message in the Old and New Testaments! He is not asking the observers to take what He did by blind faith but by observing His miracles in action.
In Acts 2 we see the first sermon preached following the resurrection. Peter was in front of a massive Jewish audience. He told them about how he and the other disciples were eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. He was making an appeal to evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
Peter tells them, “These men are not drunk as it seems, but rather this is a fulfillment of prophecy. David spoke of this. Jesus got out of the grave, and we saw him, and we proclaim this to you.” He points to the resurrection as the confirmation of the truth of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Notice how he ends his sermon. Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” There we find a familiar phrase. “Know for certain.” Here Peter points to the resurrection as physical evidence to support his contention Jesus is the Messiah.
The Bible is loaded with examples of asking people to believe based on the evidence. In Romans 1:4 Paul said, “Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead…” The power of the resurrection declares Jesus is the Son of God. Is that just a blind faith statement? Is it something we just wish for? The resurrection was a fact witnessed by Paul and hundreds of others (1 Cor. 15:6). The evidence supporting Jesus as the Son of God is the fact of the resurrection.
Finally, in the book of 1 John we see this all brought together. 1 John 5:13, “These things,” John says, “I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
John wants us to know it! Remember how John started out his book? He started out by saying he was not only an eyewitness of the resurrection but he personally spent time with Jesus. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of Life, and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life.” (1 John 1:1,2)
In reference to the disciples and others he said we walked with Jesus, we talked with Him, we touched Him; therefore our faith is not vain hope. It is not simply wishing. We have put our trust in God based on the evidence, and that’s what Biblical faith entails.
According to the Bible, faith does not believe the unbelievable. Rather, it is an act of trust based on evidence that leads to action. That’s why Peter and others said, “Know for certain.”