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  • Faith is faith

    Over the years, the lack of belief in God has been rationalized a number of ways, and most of us have heard a number of reasons why belief in God is irrational. The most fundamental reason for unbelief that I remember, was from a person who said, “Some people have faith, some people don’t.” That sounds reasonable at first, right? Yet, the truth is, those who say they cannot believe in a Creator on the basis of their simply lacking the capacity for faith, are deluding themselves. Everyone—from the intrepid prayer warrior on his knees, to the most rabid atheist—possesses the innate capacity for complete and total faith. Consider a few examples:

    Barring an innate fear of flying, most people on an airline flight--atheists included--will sit back in the seat assigned them, chatting, reading, or even sleeping. Let's put this in the proper perspective: This atheist is soaring some 20,000 feet above the earth, with nothing but air between him and the hard ground below, acutely aware of the number of people who have died a horrific death as the result of airplane crashes. Yet, he exhibits no apparent fear of meeting with a similarly gory end. Why not? Well, that my friend, is the power of faith. It may ultimately be faith in the skills of the captain and co-pilot, the sound engineering and design of the magnificent airship he is surrounded by; the skill and craftsmanship of those who put it together, or the personnel who meticulously inspect and maintain its components. But faith it is, nonetheless. No one is going to go up that high into the sky unless he is confident that the flight will terminate in a smooth, safe landing--rather than a ball of fire and strewn body parts, right? Faith.

    Or ponder our atheist friend being prepped for surgery--brain, heart, or whatever it happens to be for. Our atheist is going to be rendered unconscious by an anesthesiologist, and be injected with a drug that will completely paralyze both his respiratory and circulatory system. A combination of drugs, machines, and specially-trained people will be keeping his lungs pumping and his blood circulating, as the technicians literally keep him alive by artificial means. Any one of these people who have not had enough sleep, are despondent, or otherwise not fully focused on the task at hand, could potentially be the cause of the patient not making it out of the O.R. alive. Yet our intrepid friend braves this situation, fully trusting them all with his very life. That's faith.

    Then our surgical team goes to work. The patient is slit open--whether it is to gain access to his brain, heart or other vital organ. It is not uncommon for a person in surgery to die as a result of doctor error, unforeseen complications, equipment failure, or even infection. Doctors carry millions of dollars in insurance because of the high risk inherent in surgical operations; and indeed, a number of patients do die during or after surgery every year. And still, thousands of people lie down on an operating table every year just the same--fully expecting a successful procedure, and that they will leave the hospital alive and well. Why? Again, the answer is faith--and nothing short of it.

    The list goes on and on. Faith is demonstrated in numerous ways during the day to day routines of earthly existence--ways we may not even consciously think about. Is not faith in the quality of the brakes in our car the reason we calmly cruise about on the roadways--sometimes reaching freeway speeds at which a sudden impact could twist our vehicles into a mangled mess--with us inside. It is by faith that we even expect our hearts to continue beating from one sunrise to the next--let alone for the next 25 years, so that we can actually enjoy that retirement we have planned out. There are literally hundreds of examples of day to day faith, exercised by people in every country, culture, walk of life--and level of spirituality. In each instance, a person is believing in something that cannot be proven, but is instead, accepted as a given by sheer, blind faith.

    So, don't let anyone convince you that not believing in God is the result of simply not having faith, as if it were a subjective attribute like a sense of humor or some artistic talent. No, everyone has faith-- even avowed atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens were born with that capacity. Beliefs concerning the origin of the universe and Evolution are nothing more than faith in scientific theories, aren't they?

    The problem is not that some do not have faith; it's that they're unwilling to put that faith in one Who is superior to them; One to Whom they must be both submissive and accountable. The real problem is a rebellious human nature that is able to put its faith in human wisdom and knowledge, yet refuses to submit itself to the Creator. God has created in every person, a measure of faith (Romans 12:3 ). And faith...is faith.
    Comments 9 Comments
    1. Eyelog's Avatar
      Eyelog -
      Great article. So true. Conventional (worldly) wisdom is what 'unbelievers' trust and obey. If the convention were to trust God, however, would it not still be worldly?

      Then, we have so many 'believers' who have trust Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. We have so many 'saints' who trust Jesus for eternal life, but not for their remaining life on earth. Of course, it's a matter of degree, usually.

      But I wonder, how appetizing is the promise to most of us:

      But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33.
    1. Sojourner55's Avatar
      Sojourner55 -
      Thanks Eyelog. I agree that, even among professing Christians in the West, faith is often lackluster at best. It's easier to appear faithful when things are going good, than when they're not. Yet true faith is fully refined only when it is tried in the fires of trials and persecution--as it was both during the early Church, and as it is among those persecuted saints around the world today.

      I believe the testing will eventually come to us. and I fear that many have put their faith in being whisked off to heaven before "the bad stuff" happens, rather than in the One Who is able to keep them strong in the midst of those things. And I believe that the genuineness of one's faith will determine who "holds fast," and who "falls away" in the last days--which even now, are upon us.
    1. Longsufferer's Avatar
      Longsufferer -
      Thank you for your article; I also have mentioned similar things in bible study. For me the nature of faith or indeed faithfulness is sincerity, which again for me God looks for in us; and He knows those who are sincere toward Him, and those who are not, even among the very bosom of the church. It seems with professing unbelievers their unbelief is a matter of flat out rejection of God, and refusal to know Him; because simply they do not want any one to rule over them, and just cannot accept that there is someone greater than the "Great Me" or the "Great We".
    1. Sojourner55's Avatar
      Sojourner55 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Longsufferer View Post
      Thank you for your article; I also have mentioned similar things in bible study. For me the nature of faith or indeed faithfulness is sincerity, which again for me God looks for in us; and He knows those who are sincere toward Him, and those who are not, even among the very bosom of the church. It seems with professing unbelievers their unbelief is a matter of flat out rejection of God, and refusal to know Him; because simply they do not want any one to rule over them, and just cannot accept that there is someone greater than the "Great Me" or the "Great We".
      And thank you, Longsufferer. Yes, I firmly believe that unbelief is rooted in the rebellious spirit of our fallen human nature. As Paul pointed out, the unbeliever is without excuse because he has all the magnificence of the universe around him, declaring the handiwork and glory of God as it's Creator. Man doesn't reject God's existence because he lacks faith--for all possess a measure of faith. He actually rejects the existence of God intellectually so he can reject God's superiority: so he doesn't have to deal with a holy, omniscient God, Who convicts him of his sin, and makes him aware of his need for One greater than he.
    1. Redeemed by Grace's Avatar
      Redeemed by Grace -
      Hi Sj...

      I see the bible offering or defining two types of faith given to man... one is self serving, ie... the faith in brakes, the chair, the airplane... as you have described... more temporal. The other is eternal, in that it's given from God to a Christian back through God in His Spirit. The first enjoys every man to a degree. The later is a discerner by the Spirit of God as like unto the wind [John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."]. For as Peter declaring that Jesus is the Christ -- the Son of the living God, for which Jesus decries, this thought isn't from you directly, but given to you from God [Matthew 16:16,17]. To the young boy's father who cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief...." To the prayers in His Spirit back to God. Our faith, our eternal faith, is not the same, and cannot be as the same as the temporal faith of man. For our faith of Christ is blessed assurance.

      Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
      Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
      Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


      For His glory...
    1. Sojourner55's Avatar
      Sojourner55 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Redeemed by Grace View Post
      Hi Sj...

      I see the bible offering or defining two types of faith given to man... one is self serving, ie... the faith in brakes, the chair, the airplane... as you have described... more temporal. The other is eternal, in that it's given from God to a Christian back through God in His Spirit. The first enjoys every man to a degree. The later is a discerner by the Spirit of God as like unto the wind [John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."]. For as Peter declaring that Jesus is the Christ -- the Son of the living God, for which Jesus decries, this thought isn't from you directly, but given to you from God [Matthew 16:16,17]. To the young boy's father who cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief...." To the prayers in His Spirit back to God. Our faith, our eternal faith, is not the same, and cannot be the as the same as the temporal faith of man. For our faith of Christ is blessed assurance.

      Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
      Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
      Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

      For His glory...
      Hi Redeemed,
      I see where you're coming from, but you should take care you don't "miss the forest for the trees." The point I was making is, there are people who have all the faith and trust in the world in the wisdom and skills of mankind, yet lack the faith to accept the existence of God. I maintain that if you have one, you can have the other. If you fully "believe" in someone or something, you are exercising "faith" in it, which means you are accepting something as a given, despite there being no empirical evidence upon which you can base your trust and confidence.

      Within those parameters, I see no functional difference between the faith by which one accepts Jesus as his Savior, and the faith by which one trusts a surgeon to remove his heart and replace it with another one--or trusts the pilot who is flying him 20,000 feet in the air. In each case, one has only trust and confidence in the ability of the one being trusted to rely on. Certainly, there is a tremendous difference in Jesus and a fallible, fellow human being--and in the temporal and eternal--but ultimately--by definition, faith is faith.

      Finally, I'm persuaded that the Bible concerns itself only with "faith" in the context of our relationship with God, and that the Scriptural distinction in types of faith you allude to, can only be regarded as a matter of opinion. (Are there specific passages that seem to delineate the distinction you refer to)? Out of the several hundred instances in the NT in which the English word, "faith" is used in the KJV, it corresponds almost exclusively to the Greek pistis--including the one in which Paul contrasts faith in the wisdom of men, and faith in the power of God. So, I personally see only one type of faith depicted in the Scriptures.
    1. Redeemed by Grace's Avatar
      Redeemed by Grace -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sojourner55 View Post
      Hi Redeemed,
      I see where you're coming from, but you should take care you don't "miss the forest for the trees." The point I was making is, there are people who have all the faith and trust in the world in the wisdom and skills of mankind, yet lack the faith to accept the existence of God. I maintain that if you have one, you can have the other. If you fully "believe" in someone or something, you are exercising "faith" in it, which means you are accepting something as a given, despite there being no empirical evidence upon which you can base your trust and confidence.

      Within those parameters, I see no functional difference between the faith by which one accepts Jesus as his Savior, and the faith by which one trusts a surgeon to remove his heart and replace it with another one--or trusts the pilot who is flying him 20,000 feet in the air. In each case, one has only trust and confidence in the ability of the one being trusted to rely on. Certainly, there is a tremendous difference in Jesus and a fallible, fellow human being--and in the temporal and eternal--but ultimately--by definition, faith is faith.

      Finally, I'm persuaded that the Bible concerns itself only with "faith" in the context of our relationship with God, and that the Scriptural distinction in types of faith you allude to, can only be regarded as a matter of opinion. (Are there specific passages that seem to delineate the distinction you refer to)? Out of the several hundred instances in the NT in which the English word, "faith" is used in the KJV, it corresponds almost exclusively to the Greek pistis--including the one in which Paul contrasts faith in the wisdom of men, and faith in the power of God. So, I personally see only one type of faith depicted in the Scriptures.

      Howdy Sj,

      I hear ya... I guess I'm in the minority.... for there has to be a variance to faith... I don't believe in the surgeon when he removes a heart and places a new one, for that would put him in a position of divine power and authority, but I would trust that he has the skills; that the hospital for which he uses has the procedures and personnel to fulfill the operational task he has learned; and then... have faith that the hand of God would be upon him. From my viewpoint as a God sovereigntist... I have faith that all things work together for good for those who love God, and see that God is behind the things of life given us. Jesus himself spoke in parables from a point forward, because

      Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 11 Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

      So there is a discernment between temporal faith and eternal faith, IMHO, based on scriptures... for faith... again IMHO is reserved for God, all other faiths are a misuse of the term. Again, I guess I stand in the minority here, but that's OK by me.

      Blessings


      RbG
    1. Sojourner55's Avatar
      Sojourner55 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Redeemed by Grace View Post
      Howdy Sj,

      I hear ya... I guess I'm in the minority.... for there has to be a variance to faith... I don't believe in the surgeon when he removes a heart and places a new one, for that would put him in a position of divine power and authority, but I would trust that he has the skills; that the hospital for which he uses has the procedures and personnel to fulfill the operational task he has learned; and then... have faith that the hand of God would be upon him. From my viewpoint as a God sovereigntist... I have faith that all things work together for good for those who love God, and see that God is behind the things of life given us. Jesus himself spoke in parables from a point forward, because

      Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 11 Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

      So there is a discernment between temporal faith and eternal faith, IMHO, based on scriptures... for faith... again IMHO is reserved for God, all other faiths are a misuse of the term. Again, I guess I stand in the minority here, but that's OK by me.

      Blessings


      RbG
      First, I don't know why you assume you're in the minority--maybe I am. Just because a few people see and agree with my viewpoint, does not make it a majority view. Redeemed, I agree that there is a tremendous difference between faith in God, and faith in man and "things." That is a given. Yet, that distinction doesn't seem readily perceived in Scripture, but rather by an intellectual dissection of the core issue--and was not the point of the article. My point was, we all have the capacity to believe in something for which we have no physical proof--yet there are people who base their unbelief on an absence of that capacity. I simply sought to invalidate that argument, and point out the real issue: the rebellious human nature inherent in man's fallen spiritual state, which refuses to accept a "Boss" over their lives.

      I believe the innate capacity to "believe," which we all possess, is essentially the same as that which we draw upon when he ask Jesus to cleanse us, and become the Lord of our lives--when logic and reason dictate to most people, that He was a good man who has been dead for 2000 years. The subtle nuance you allude to between types of faith may indeed be a valid point. But my point is, it is disingenuous for an individual to deny the existence of God because he or she lacks the capability to do so.

      Our differences aside, I believe the focal point of the article addresses a fundamental issue, and that the conclusions drawn, are true and valid. Some will agree, and some will disagree, because we frequently see things differently--which is what makes us individuals. And that's fine by me. God bless.
    1. Longsufferer's Avatar
      Longsufferer -
      Thank You for your article. I would further add (Rom 6:16) "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness".
      For me it is a matter of sincerity toward God, and this faith is voluntary, for God looks for sincerity in the person, and knows those who are sincere, and those who are not; even as the faith [sincerity] of Abraham.
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