Misperceptions about faith in Christ permeate our cultural understanding. How often have we heard faith contrasted with evidence? How common is it for people to assume that religious faith demands a blind allegiance.
When we examine the nature of Christian faith with eyes wide open, we discover God calls people to respond to him in faith based upon solid evidence. Biblical faith does not entail closing one’s eyes to take a blind leap.
The formation of Israel and the church stand as iconic monuments to the nature of biblical faith. At both junctures in time, God would enter into relationship with people and teach them to move forward in faith. And at both points of time, God first provided solid evidence to reveal that it was reasonable to trust in God before calling people to trust in him.
In the case of Israel, God first poured out powerful plagues unmasking the gods of the Egyptians to be false gods (Exodus 12:12). God split open the Yam Suph for Israel to walk through on dry ground, thus further revealing his power.
It is only after these events and the demonstration of his awesome presence at Mt. Sinai that God invites Israel into a covenant relationship with himself as a Holy nation (Exodus 19:3-6; 24:3-8). God provided Israel with an evidential foundation for trusting in him.
When Jesus came, he did not merely bring a message. Luke records Peter’s testimony that Jesus “went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. We are witnesses of all the things he did” (Acts 11:38,39). John’s Gospel describes Jesus’ miracles as being signs revealing Jesus’ glory (John 3:11) and as providing reason for believing in him (John 14:11; 10:25; 20:30-31).
In addition to this, we live within a created universe that testifies to its Maker’s wisdom and power (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20). From the fine tuning of the very fabric of our universe to the incredible information source lying at the heart of the cell directing all of biology, the needed mind and power to create such systems exceeds our comprehension.
Even if we roll back the clock to Noah or Abraham, God acted first and then called for a faithful response. Did God speak to Noah and Abraham through a dream, a vision or as an audible voice? The text does not specifically say. However, what we do know is that Noah and Abraham realized that God had acted; God had spoken. And because God had spoken, they had good reason to respond with faith (Hebrews 11:7-8).
The Bible pictures faith as being a response to God and Christ, a response built upon what God has already done. Faith is not the call to jump forward “just because.”
To be sure, some within our culture will claim that faith is not based upon evidence. That might be because they are ignorant of the evidence or they might think that faith cannot survive scrutiny. That might be because they wish to cheapen faith in order to easily dismiss it.
However, when we examine the nature of faith within scripture, God first provides good reason for trusting in him before he calls us to take a single step in faith.