Apologetics

 

What Does it Mean to Have Faith in God?

by Sean McDowell

A few summers ago, I spoke at a camp in California. Topics for the week included intelligent design, the reliability of Scripture, and the historical resurrection of Jesus. On the last day of camp, a young Christian woman complained that proving the existence of God left no room for faith.

Although she meant well, she was deeply confused about the nature of faith. She had a view similar to Mark Twain, who famously defined faith as “believing something you know ain’t so.” Many people today understand faith as a blind act of the will regardless of evidence. But the Bible presents a very different understanding of faith. Biblical faith is a trust in God because he has shown himself to be trustworthy and dependable.

Faith in God is not unlike the faith we put in certain individuals. The more evidence we find that someone is truly kind, honest, and dependable, the more likely we are to trust them. I did not put my “faith” in my wife when I first met her. Rather, I spent time getting to know her, learning about her interests, and examining her character. After spending much time with her, I was convinced that she was a trustworthy person, the one with whom I wanted to spend my life.

The same concept applies to placing faith in God. He wants us to get to know Him so we will see He is trustworthy. In fact, God expects faith from us, because he’s given us good evidence of his dependable character, as when he showered Egypt with miracles before inviting Israel to follow him into the wilderness (Ex. 7–14). Rather than asking Israel for blind allegiance, God performed miracles through Moses so they could have a reasonable faith in God and his servant Moses (Ex. 14:31). The DreamWorks song in The Prince of Egypt got it backwards — God didn’t do miracles when the people believed, but before they believed. This allowed them to exercise a confident faith in him.

God frequently performed miracles in the Bible so people would have confidence in His character. Before healing the paralytic, Jesus said, “So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10). Jesus healed the man so people would know he spoke with authority from above. Jesus did miracles because he was good, but also to confirm his identity. John explains why Jesus’s miracles were recorded: “So that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

Faith isn’t something we exercise just once. We need faith daily. It is a mistake to trust God for the “big” things of heaven (like salvation) but not the “little” things on earth (like daily guidance). God invites us to trust him, moment by moment, for all of our concerns. He is a well-seasoned guide who never leads us astray. We can follow God’s Son Jesus because He is the smartest and most powerful person, and He loves us beyond measure.

This post is an excerpt from the Apologetics Study Bible for Students by Holman Bible Publishers. It is used with permission. You can purchase this resource in its entirety here.

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