What is Faith? Part 2 Defining Biblical Faith

In my previous post I established what Biblical faith is not.  I gave examples of how Biblical faith does not believe the impossible.  I would now like to define it.

What is Biblical faith?

Blind faith:  Believes in things when common sense tells you not to.  Another local editorial writer said this, “Among several definitions of faith, one finds ‘firm belief in something for which there is no evidence.’  It is noteworthy that concrete physical evidence is unnecessary for religious belief.  Unswerving faith alone can be sufficient to sustain and defend religious belief[1].”  This is what I will call blind faith.

Biblical faith: This is the opposite of blind faith.  It doesn’t believe against the evidence.  Instead, Biblical faith is knowledge, foundationally based on evidence, which results in action.  Let me support this definition from a passage found in the Book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:1 (NASB) “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We see the words assurance and conviction–that is, confidence.  According to Webster’s dictionary assurance means to be certain in the mind.  Conviction means a strong persuasion or belief.  How are these key words tied to faith?

In the movie “Back to the Future Part 2” the villain Biff found out about the professor’s time machine.  He then stole a book that had the results of sporting events over a number of years.  By going back in time he could then use the book to bet on the winning teams and win a fortune.  Do you think Biff simply hoped he would win?  No!  Do you think Biff had the assurance he was going to win?  Absolutely!  Do you think his conviction pertaining to who would win gave him the confidence to place the bets?  Certainly!

The same goes for Biblical faith.  For the Christian the facts matter. You cannot have assurance for something you don't know you're going to get. You can only hope for it.  Evidence strengthens our assurance; evidence strengthens our conviction our beliefs are true.

Now faith is a deeply misunderstood word.  A better word for faith is trust.  The more we know about something the more we can trust it.  I travel around the country putting on workshops for physical educators.  I can know a lot about airplanes and their performance record but until I walk onto the plane I am not expressing faith.

The same goes for marriage.  I can know all you can know about the institution of marriage but until I walk down the aisle and say “I do” I am not placing my faith or trust in the institution of marriage.  Remember faith is knowledge resulting in action.

Go to part 3 here

[1] West, Dick; “Faith doesn’t need proof,” North County Times; Faith & Values 1/5/07

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