January 28, 2011

Faith part 2 – Evidence For Hope

Posted in Faith tagged , , , , , , at 11:29 AM by E. M.

No one ever talks about Isaac's faith. . .

The second dispensation failed because the people of that had great knowledge, but they relied on knowledge alone to form their worldview.  They did not believe in anything they did not know completely, therefore they did not fully believe in God.  They lacked faith.

Generally speaking, faith is the willingness to rely on something that we do not have full knowledge of.  We also learned in the last post that faith can either be reasonable or irrational based on the object that one chooses to have faith in.

Faith is obviously a vital component of any belief system because none of us has all the knowledge in existence. Only God has that level of knowledge, therefore it takes some degree of faith to believe in anything that we don’t fully know – including God.

But does faith in God fall into the category of reasonable faith or irrational faith?  And for that matter, how does God define faith?

Fortunately, faith is one of the terms for which the Bible provides a direct definition:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

The key terms in this definition are “hope”, “evidence”, and “the unseen” (or unknown).

Hope is the expectation of a positive occurrence.  From a Biblical standpoint, it would be the expectation of something good.

Evidence is empirical validation learned via direct or indirect means – either by knowledge or experience.

The unseen is that which is not fully known and/or that which has not been experienced.

So, Biblically speaking, faith is the expectation of something good, from a source or object that is not fully known, based on some previously validated knowledge and/or experience with the source.

This definition definitely meets the criteria of reasonable faith presented in the last post.

Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the “Hall of Faith”.  After giving the definition of faith, the writer provides examples of Biblical characters who demonstrated their rational faith by their expectation of good based of previous knowledge and experience with God.

One of the examples is the narrative of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (which we looked at during our examination of love).  If Abraham’s first encounter with God was simply an arbitrary command to drag his beloved son up a mountain and plunge a knife in his chest just for the hell of it, then Abraham’s willingness to do so and hope for the best would be an example of irrational faith.

However Hebrews 11: 8-16 shows that Abraham’s history with God consisted of progressive experiences of God’s unwavering and miraculous commitment to Abraham’s prophetic destiny to be the father of a great nation.  After decades of this knowledge and experience Abraham willingly obeyed the command to sacrifice Isaac under the reasonable presumption that God could not break His covenant.  Abraham had so much faith in God’s nature that he presumed that if he killed Isaac, God would have to resurrect him is order to keep His promise!

 

This type of faith is evident throughout the Bible.  When God requires an act of faith from anyone in the scriptures, it is always based either on knowledge that the person has or their prior experience.

That standard of faith has not changed.  If anyone today chooses to have faith in God, that faith is only reasonable if it is based on knowledge and/or experience.  The primary reason that I titled this blog “Faith by Reason” is that my main goal is to progressively give logical reasons (knowledge) for faith in God (plus its sounds better that my original title, “Mabrie Explains it All!”).  The first 12 posts in the blog give reasons to believe in God based on knowledge.

So we now see that despite claims to the contrary, the faith required by the God of the Bible is reasonable.  But why does God require it?  Why is faith so important to God’s plan? Next time. . .

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6 Comments »

  1. Don said,

    No prior experience necessary and no prior knowledge necessary for faith. Just a firm unwavering belief in the Word of God. “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as Righteousness.”
    Think of this if you need knowledge or experience before you had faith then NO one could be saved. I was not present at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  2. E. Mabrie said,

    Hello Don,

    Faith is choosing to believe something that you do not have full knowledge of. If you were an eye-witness of the crucifixion and resurrection, you WOULD have full knowledge of it so you would NOT need faith to believe it happened.

    No one alive today witnessed the events of Jesus’ life. Every Christian since the first century came to Christ because someone gave them KNOWLEDGE of the Gospel message and they chose to believe that knowledge by faith.

    Some questions for you:
    How can one have “a firm unwavering belief in the Word of God” unless they FIRST had some KNOWLEDGE of the Word of God?

    Do you believe someone can be saved by faith if they do not have prior KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE that they are a sinner and in need salvation? If so, how?

    Can someone be saved by faith without receiving some degree of KNOWLEDGE of God and the means of salvation? If so, how?

    If you truly believe that prior knowledge or experience are not necessary for faith, then belief in God is on par with belief in any unseen/unknown entity such as fairies, leprechauns, unicorns, and the assorted gods of the various religions. Do you believe is all of them as well as God? If not, why not?

    • Don said,

      Some questions for you:
      How can one have “a firm unwavering belief in the Word of God” unless they FIRST had some KNOWLEDGE of the Word of God?

      I agree. You must be congnitive of the fact that there is a Bible. Faith is not the KNOWLEDGE of the Word but the BELIEVE in the Word.
      Abraham had no knowledge of what God was going to do. He just heard and believed. After the events of the sacrifice did he then have KNOWLEDGE. However, he still did not know that God allowed that to happen to show a type of Christ.

      Do you believe someone can be saved by faith if they do not have prior KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE that they are a sinner and in need salvation? If so, how?

      Oh I agree with this they must have knowledge of SIN. Then again this is KNOWLEDGE of SIN not FAITH in the Word.

      Can someone be saved by faith without receiving some degree of KNOWLEDGE of God and the means of salvation? If so, how?

      The only way you can be SAVED is to BELIEVE in what JESUS did on the cross. A KNOWLEDGE of GOD is the beginning but “FAITH comes by HEARING and HEARING by the WORD of CHRIST” Then you increase in Knowledge but then GOD says “lien not on your own understanding…”

      If you truly believe that prior knowledge or experience are not necessary for faith, then belief in God is on par with belief in any unseen/unknown entity such as fairies, leprechauns, unicorns, and the assorted gods of the various religions. Do you believe is all of them as well as God? If not, why not?

      Oh no fairies, unicorns and other mythological creatures have not revealed themselves to us like the CREATOR. This is not blind faith in man-made mythology but BELIEF in an UNSEEN CREATOR revealed to us by His SON. “The author and finisher of our FAITH”

  3. E. Mabrie said,

    Don, you’re essentially making my point for me.

    Remember, reasonable faith is using the limited knowledge that you have of the object of faith, and using that limited knowledge as the BASIS to believe what you DON’T know.

    Let’s take your example of Abraham – When Abraham was growing up, there still people alive (in his own family even) who were a generation or two removed from the events of the Great Flood, and the Tower of Babel (there are some ancient Jewish writings that say he had extensive contact with Noah’s son Shem). Abraham undoubtedly had some knowledge of Jehovah, and that knowledge (combined with his experience of a supernatural voice out of nowhere telling him to pack a U-Haul and move to another country), gave him a compelling reason to obey even though Abraham DIDN’T know what God was going to do once he got there.

    As you said God has REVEALED himself to man. That revelation, be it through creation as Paul shows in Roman’s chapter 1, or through specific revelation from the Bible or human witnesses, is the knowledge that we uses as a basis for the reasonable faith that leads to salvation.

  4. simon said,

    Thanks so much Ed. I really enjoy your perspective on the bible and using logic to disect things. I had alot of damage early in my life from the churches I had gone to of never being appealed to through logic, but requests that I just believe in things that, with their explanations, made no sense at all. I look forward to reading more from you!

    simon peter nielsen

    • E. Mabrie said,

      Hi Simon,

      I too grew up in a traditional church wherein I was discouraged from asking honest questions and was told to “just believe”. That mentality led me away from the church for a while during and after college. Once I rededicated myself to Christianity, I decided that if the God of the Bible is real, then His words should conform to objective truth. That’s been the basis of of my fellowship with Him since. Thanks for for your comments and for reading the blog. I’ll have another post up soon.

      Ed


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