“Leap of faith.”
“Just have faith.”
We've all heard expressions like these, but do they align with how the Bible talks about faith? Let's take a closer look.
Most of these modern expressions, and especially "blind faith," stem from 2 Corinthians 5:7. In that verse, Paul tells the Corinthians, “Therefore, we walk by faith, not by sight”. That seems pretty straightforward, right? We are supposed to walk by what we feel through faith, and not by what we're able to see in front of us. Well, not so fast.
I think the Bible issues three clear challenges to this understanding of faith. We'll take a look at each one.
Faith is Much More than a Feeling
A more careful look at 2 Corinthians 5:7 reveals something much deeper than "faith as a feeling" we use to help us make decisions. In fact, this verse isn't about what we’re supposed to do with faith at all. It's about what we are actually doing by faith. Paul is communicating a fact to the Corinthian believers: We are, as Christians, walking by faith in Christ at every moment in life. This becomes clear when we look at the verse in its immediate context.
"So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) [italics mine]
Because we are currently absent from the Lord (v6), we are not in the heavenly realm with Him. Therefore, we walk by faith (v7), knowing that we will see Him one day when we are absent from the body and present with Him (v8). This is a description of our current faith, not a prescription for faith. And more pointedly, the description is that we walk by faith in Him. From beginning to end, these verses are centered on the person of Christ.
Far from a mere feeling, faith is an absolute trust in the Son of God while we're in the body because we are certain we will see Him when we are absent from the body. It's worthwhile to dig deeper into the idea of trust.
Faith is Firmly Rooted in Trust
One of my favorite quotes is “faith is only as good as the object it’s placed in.” I’ve seen it repeated several times, and I’m not sure who originally said it, but I believe it helps shed light on the notion that faith is the same as trust. When you place your faith in something or someone, you have actually placed your trust in that object or that person. For example, if you're sitting in airplane that is about to take off, you have faith in the object to fly and faith in the pilot to fly it safely. You have placed your full trust in both.
In the same way, biblical faith is trust that is placed in something (like the promises of God in Hebrews 11:1), or Someone (like the Son of God as we saw above). Just look at some of the ways the scriptures use faith:
- "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – (Romans 10:17)
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8)
- “And without faith it is impossible to please Him …” (Hebrews 11:6)
- “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
None of these point to some mystical force we summon to help us leap through decisions or get us out of hard situations. Instead, they all have one thing in view: faith (or trust) in God. This is trust, firmly planted in God.
Faith is Not Blind
We already discussed how "walk by faith, not sight" refers to faith in the Son of God and knowing we will eventually see Him. In this sense, the opposite of faith is unbelief. However, many use this verse to claim that faith is totally blind and needs no evidence to support it. In this sense, the opposite of faith is reason. Consider this statement:
“If we had evidence for God, we wouldn’t need faith.”
I don’t know if you have encountered that statement before, but I have. And it’s a direct result of believing in a “blind faith” that is unsupported by reason, thought, or evidence.
However, one of the many unique claims of Christianity is the mountain of evidence for the creation of the universe, the reliability of the scriptures, the life of Jesus, and His resurrection. Nowhere does the Bible advocate for us (or others) to blindly have faith "just because."
God says to come, and let us reason together in Isaiah 1:18; Paul reasoned with the Athenians concerning his faith at Mars Hill in Acts 17; Peter encourages us to always be ready to provide reasons for the hope that is within us in 2 Peter 3:15; throughout the gospels, Jesus provided miracles to prove His deity; God provided the evidence of fulfilled prophecies that point to the coming Messiah. In fact, Regarding Jesus, John the Apostle says there’s so much evidence that Jesus is who He said He is that “If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25).
God has been abundantly gracious to grant us a faith that is reasonable and bathed in evidence so that we can confidently invite others to come investigate the majestic claims of Christ – and to ultimately place their faith in Him alone.