He may have heard Hebrews 11:1 but not understood its nuances: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Still, there are those who argue, “Religious faith is self-deception; it is a mental trick we play on ourselves to keep our anxieties at bay.” Others label it an attitude the weak embrace to make their weakness bearable.
But, aren’t we all bound to faith in navigating the uncertainties of our daily lives? We don’t eat in a restaurant unless we have faith that the food will be safe and tasty. Somebody recommended the place but we responded in faith.
We write a check in faith that the money will be in the bank, even though we cannot see, feel, hear, or smell the money. We rely on the evidence of past experience.
Getting married is a towering act of faith. So is signing a mortgage. Even opening a can of peas is a gesture of faith.
The Christian gospel calls us to faith on the most consequential scale of all. It speaks to a life and death issue — our sin and its shadow over the life we live, and the need for redemption for this life and the next. What is the evidence?
Here is one aspect of that evidence.
During the first century, four men set down in writing the story of Jesus Christ, the Messiah sent from God. Two of these men — Matthew and John — had traveled with him for approximately three years. A younger man, Mark, had apparently witnessed first hand the events of Jesus’ unlawful arrest which would lead up to his trial, crucifixion, and resurrection (Mark 14:51).
Luke, the fourth witness, had not traveled with Jesus but had researched the events of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, and had carefully recorded the story. He was an educated man, a doctor, and is recognized to the present as a careful historian (Luke 1:1- 4).
These accounts were carried across the known world from that time to the present, and although they have been repeatedly attacked they continue to speak saving truth 21 centuries later. The essence of their call? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). This is a call to faith based on evidence.
It is also convincing to many that men of great learning have come to faith through reading these timeless accounts. Being convinced of their authenticity, men like Augustine of the fifth century, Martin Luther of the sixteenth, G.K. Chesterton and C.S.Lewis of the twentieth, and countless others who after thorough investigation have embraced the Gospel’s truth in faith.
As well, ordinary people and even the down-and-out testify to the life-changing power of the Gospel. The greatest wonder is a supernatural change to mind, heart, and habits of people at all levels.
But not all become believers who have read the Gospels and encounter the witness of others. Some read but cannot seem to rise above their unbelief, or they refuse to relinquish it. To them this Gospel cautions, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18).
When saving faith enters the heart and mind of one who formerly did not believe, this faith brings assurance with it. Jesus prayed for his disciples before he was separated from them, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Saving faith leads to a kind of knowing – an affirmation of the truth made to the heart. The Apostle John wrote: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
The Gospel call is not a call to credulity, an invitation to “believe what we know ain’t so.” It is a call to engage the facts set down in the Gospel, consider the testimony of other believers, and examine our own hearts to renounce resistance to their truth.
It is a call to put full faith in the one who came into our world as an infant, lived a blameless life before the world, died an ignominious death on behalf of others but rose again to ascend into heaven. There he ever lives to make intercession for us.
What a consequence! When we believe, our hearts say with conviction: Jesus is Savior, and Jesus is Lord!
Photo credit: Phil Long (via flickr.com)