It’s been a long series, but we’re almost to the end – we’re at number ten of the eleven essential beliefs of the Christian faith. This time, around, we look at the necessity of faith – why one cannot be at Christian without faith. Of course, since there are many, many misconceptions and misunderstandings about what faith really is, we’ll have to start with a definition of faith as used in this context.
But first, here’s our list of core beliefs:
1. The infallibility of the Bible in the original manuscripts
2. God’s sovereign rule over all creation
3. Human depravity
4. The necessity of God’s grace
5. The virgin birth
6. Christ’s sinlessness
7. The full humanity and deity of Christ
8. The triunity of God
9. The atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Christ
10. The necessity of faith
11. Christ’s second coming, final judgement and reign.
As usually used by atheists, naturalists, and secular humanists, faith is defined exclusively as an irrational belief in something that has no basis in fact. This definition is convenient for ridiculing those who don’t agree with their worldview, but is a false definition of how “faith” is used both historically and in the context of Christian doctrine.
Faith, as defined in the context of Christian belief and historical understanding of the term, primarily is understood as a trust and belief in a person or thing based on knowledge, observation, and experience concerning the object of that faith. For example:
“Knowing the quality of construction of the old chair, he had faith that it would last at least another five years.”
“Based on his voting record over the last eight years, her faith that Congressman Bigmoney would vote for the latest tax increase was well founded.”
“Having studied the evidence for and against the accuracy of the Bible in a variety of disciplines, I have concluded that it is more reasonable to put my faith in the God of the universe as presented by Scripture than to ignore Him.”
Notice that in every example, trust in the object, its actions, or its truthfulness (the chair, the politician, God, the Bible) is based on evidence for that belief, even though the outcome is not a certainty. Faith as used in the Bible and as defined in Christian doctrine is NEVER based on feeling, wishful thinking, or ‘just because’ — it is ALWAYS based on the available factual evidence and an intimate knowledge of the nature of God.
This kind of faith is what is necessary for the disciple of Christ. It is a trust based on evidence and either personal or observed experience. It is not, as many skeptics like to say, ‘a leap of faith’; it is a reasoned, thoughtful STEP of faith.
God requires that, in faith, we trust in his love, mercy, and power and that we obey His commands. He has, through his written Word and many other ways, demonstrated that He is trustworthy and that the faith He expects is not a blind faith, but a faith based on a belief and trust in His Word and our observation its’ truth.
This necessary faith is also an active faith – it’s like sitting on a chair. You may have a belief (faith) that it will hold your weight, but unless you are willing to actually sit on it, you don’t really have any meaningful faith in the integrity of the chair. It is only when you begin to sit in the chair that you really have faith in its’ ability to hold you.
In this light, Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9 mean much more than just an intellectual affirmation; they are statements that require faith!