One of the worst blights ever to infect the church is the idea originated by the Danish religious philosopher Soren Kierkegaard concerning a “leap of faith” (sometimes called a “blind leap of faith”). Even some in the real church have succumbed to this unscriptural notion that faith is little more than an unanchored hope or an amorphous confidence based on nothing more substantial than a Pollyannaish expectation that somehow everything will work out all right. Yet, few religious concepts could be less biblical than the idea of a “leap of faith.”
On the contrary, when we realize that faith originates with God and comes to us as a gift from Him, when we consider that faith is a God-given response to a declaration by God, and when we encounter the large number of Bible verses and passages that deal with knowing God and His Word, it seems inexcusable to think of faith as anything other than a fixed belief or conviction concerning some truth God has declared in His Word. In fact, there is such a vast catalogue of instruction on this matter in the Bible that we are hard-pressed to focus on any single passage on this matter. Nevertheless, Paul’s letter to the Colossians offers a brief and powerful expression of the truth concerning faith. “We give thanks to God . . . Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus . . . For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you . . . and bringeth forth fruit
. . . since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth” (1:3-6).
Note the cognitive words in this short quotation: heard, word, truth, heard, knew, truth. Faith, in this passage closely identified with hope, can in no way be seen as some blind wish stemming from nothing more substantial than a vague desire. Paul understands faith to be rooted in hearing something concrete from God, namely words. And those words convey an understandable message. And that message is truth. And that truth can be known--and believed.
What kind of parent would sire a child, never reveal himself or anything substantial about himself to his child, never offer any help, and never provide in any recognizable way for that child, and then expect that child to trust in him? Yet many would suggest that the faith demanded of believers lacks any substance with which to support it. Three times we are told that “Abraham believed God” (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Jam. 2:23). In other words, God had told Abraham something that he could first know and understand and then be confident in.
While faith itself might be said to be extra-rational, it is never irrational because it rests in the knowable and understandable truth of “thus-saith-the-Lord.” The apostle Peter shares Paul’s understanding of faith as based in knowledge and rational understanding. “Be ready always,” he exhorts, “to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15). An “I-don’t-know” or an “I-just-have-a-feeling” does not meet the specifications set forth by God through Peter. The word answer comes from the Greek word from which we derive the English word apology, not the word defined as admitting guilt and asking for forgiveness, but the word that speaks of a “formal defense” or a “logical argument.”
A faith unattached to the Word of God is a foolish and futile faith that neither honors God nor saves man. “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded [“to convince by argument”]” Paul wrote to Timothy (II Tim. 1:12). He understood real faith to be anchored in real knowledge of real truth revealed by God. What do you believe?
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