What Does “faith” Mean?

If believer says something like, “I have faith that Jesus rose from the dead,” what a skeptic hears him say is, “I’ll blindly believe anything the Bible says.”

The key to explaining true faith is to point out its connection to evidence. Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. We need to make clear that real faith is not a feel-good crutch based on wishful thinking. Biblical faith is not blind, flimsy, or afraid of scrutiny. It is not an excuse that fills the gaps in our understanding. Here is the biblical definition of “faith” from Hebrews 11:1 (emphasis added):

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (NKJV).

This verse in conjunction with other verses like Romans 1:20 indicates that by testing and investigating what we can observe, we can build reasonable confidence about what we cannot observe. Blind faith is not a biblical principle. Consider these passages:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”   (Mark 12:30).
>> Jesus never asks us to turn off reason when relating to God.

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (John 14:11).
>> It is only logical that nothing short of a miracle is sufficient evidence of the divine. Miracles support Jesus’ repeated claims to be God.* (See also Paul’s argument in Acts 17:31.)

• “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
>> This verse agrees nicely with scientific inquiry. Based on observation and understanding, not wishful thinking, we can reasonably conclude that the world is no accident.

Testing and investigation build an account of credibility that funds our faith. Even if we don’t know all the evidence behind our faith, it doesn’t change the fact that more than enough exists for us and for skeptics to examine if necessary.

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