What Is This Thing Called “Faith”

Note: This weeks blog was originally written as a single posting.  But, it just kept growing… and growing.  I decided to break it into three parts.  Part two …next week.  Part three will be the week following.

The Sunday School Teacher was in “deep water”.  She was trying to teach the concept of faith to her 4th graders. She turned to Billy and asked, “Billy, what do you think faith is?”

Billy thought for a moment, and answered, “I guess faith is believing in something that isn’t true.”

I smiled when I heard that story;  and then I started thinking.  I decided a lot of adults would agree with Billy.  But, they would be wrong.  If we have faith in something we know not to be true, then we are (at best) deluding ourselves; and may (in extreme cases) need psychiatric help.  That is most certainly, not faith.

I looked “faith” up in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary and found: “…belief and trust in and loyalty to God”; and, “…firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”

I’ve also heard it said, “…faith is believing without proof.  If you have proof, you don’t need faith.”

I agree with those statements; but, at the same time, I don’t think God wants or expects us to simply switch off our brains in matters involving our faith.  (I’ll admit that there have been a few times when I wished I could; but, I’m simply not wired that way.)  And, really, I don’t want to be.  For instance, there are many false doctrines floating around in our culture.  It is, therefore, important that I (with God’s help) be able to distinguish God’s truth from Satan’s lies.

And while there are times it would be easier to just accept something on “faith” …I can’t.  No, I will go looking for the facts, the evidence, the logic.  I have this need to understand things on an intellectual level.  At least as far as I can take it.  And, this raises an interesting question:  is the term “fact based faith” an oxymoron?  I’m sure some would say, “Yes!”  Yet, I think not.

How about evidence that does not meet the standard of “positive” proof, but is, none-the-less, germane to the question?  What we refer to as circumstantial evidence.  After all, many a defendant has been found guilty (or innocent) based “…on a preponderance of circumstantial evidence”.

I’m a Christian.  Christianity is a faith based religion.  So, let’s just get down to the ‘nitty-gritty’.  If Jesus was not the Son of God; did not die on the cross; and did not come back to life; then, there is no basis for my Faith.  Indeed, Christianity would then be a total fabrication. 

A great many books have been written on these very events.  What can I add?  Nothing.  I’m just simply going to point out, what – to me – is the most significant evidence for the truthfulness of these events.

1. Was Jesus the Son of God?  There is a great deal of evidence both from the Bible and other documents, that Jesus existed.  But, anyone, could claim to be God (or the Son of God).  If I chose to say I was God, what evidence could I produce to prove my claim? Whatever it would be, I assure you, it would take no time at all to prove my claim totally false. 

  • Yet, Jesus’ life coincided perfectly with His claim.  He never committed a sin.  All who knew Him knew what sin was, yet none ever accused, or even hinted at the tiniest possibility of even the least appearance of a sin, on His part.  (O.K., The Pharisees and the Sadducees were constantly accusing Jesus of sin – by healing on the Sabbath, or some such.  But, Jesus always showed them the error [and hypocrisy] of their thinking).

  • Jesus’ personality and knowledge were not those of any other man.  He exhibited unconditional (and unparalleled) love for all.  In his teachings He turned human thought upside down.  He showed how those who thought themselves wise were foolish, and how the poor were rich beyond measure.

  • Jesus controlled the forces of nature with His voice.  And, he brought two people back to life.  (Yes, they were really dead.  Even 2,000 years ago people knew what death looked like – and smelled like). 

  • Jesus healed many people of disease, blindness, lameness, hemorrhaging, and other physical ailments. 

  • And, no one disputed any of this.  He frequently did these things in front of huge groups of witnesses.  There were many people (the temple priests, especially) who desperately wanted to prove Jesus a fraud.  Yet, He performed these miracles over approximately three years, and in all that time not one witness rose up to say, “Hey Jesus, you know that leper you healed two years ago over in Galilee; well, his leprosy is back.”  Nope.  Never happened.  Literally thousands of witnesses to these events – no denials.

And that, friends, is where I’ll stop for this week.  We’ll consider the evidence concerning Jesus’ death on the Cross, next week; the week following that we’ll look at some of the evidence for the Resurrection and, have a brief wrap up.  Thank you for your support and kind words. 

Avery

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