Bible study Christian faith

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What’s good or bad is not the faith, but who or what we have faith in. Solid faith comes from evidence, which is a rational matter, not a moral one.

2 Reasoned faith

Greatest risk

We live our life by faith, every day. We have faith in our chair ... brakes ... surgeon ... financial advisor. All day long we put faith in the things and people we trust.

Faith is usually associated with some kind of RISK. There are bad consequences if our faith is wrongly placed.

The most important faith of all is spiritual faith because it carries the greatest risk.

Death – which could come at any moment – seals our eternal destiny, and those who had wrongly placed spiritual faith will forever curse themselves for not making the right choice while there was still time.

What is faith?

Faith itself is not a thing or quality. It is not religious exercise or resolute disposition. It is believing – believing with good reason!

Just as we see something and know we have sight ... love someone and know we have love ... so we believe something and know we have faith. Sight, love and faith come naturally, without striving, as a consequence of information and experience.

Faith is not a virtue. There’s nothing either good or bad about believing or not believing something. Faith comes from EVIDENCE, which is a rational matter, not a moral one.

Faith is nothing apart from its object. What’s good or bad is not the faith, but who or what we have faith in.

An intelligent person should believe something because of the weight of evidence for it, not merely because he feels like believing it, or because it is convenient to believe it, or because others tell him to believe it.

Everyone has faith

Everyone – even if he doesn’t believe in God – attempts to make sense of the reality around us. If he doesn’t attribute the world’s existence to God, he forms an alternative naturalistic explanation for the world and has faith in that explanation.

• An atheist is one who believes he has positive evidence that there is no God. He explains all of existence in natural rather than supernatural terms. He sees nothing in the universe except blind and unconscious force. Christians and atheists both understand that something in the future is not a fact until it actually happens. Until then, both agree, it is belief – faith – based on study of best evidence available.

• An agnostic doesn’t believe anything about God, saying that there is not enough evidence to believe either way. Sometimes this is just a cop-out for not wanting to think about it. The dominant form of agnosticism today is secular humanism, a philosophy which interprets the being of man solely within the human sciences and makes man himself the subject, source and primary object of values.

Agnostics and atheists usually pose as intellectuals. They say their views come by reason, not by faith. But their views ARE by faith, because they must  choose one or the other of two basic philosophies:

(A) the universe bears evidence of intelligent design or

(B) the universe just happened by chance by itself.

Either choice requires FAITH. And not choosing at all is still by faith – faith that a choice is inconsequential.

Every position – believer, atheist, or agnostic – is by FAITH, whether rightly placed or wrongly placed.

Ultimate arrogance

What any person knows, compared to all there is to know, is pathetically small. A person is neither wise nor intellectual when he feels no need to seek spiritual information.

It is ultimate arrogance when someone thinks he has the meaning and purpose of life all figured out and doesn’t need to consider God’s evidence (intelligent design of the universe), God’s book (the Bible) or the personal testimony of others.

Doubt is not bad

When we encounter new information, we’re likely to have some doubts about it. That’s normal and okay.

There’s nothing bad about doubt.  Doubt can be a healthy step in the development of faith.

More than sincerity

Sincerity is not enough because sincerity is attitude, not fact. We can be sincerely wrong. We need to be RIGHT in our belief, not just sincere about it.

Best decision process

Solid faith comes not just from the heart, but from heart AND mind in sync.

As in every aspect of life, faith is strongest and most reliable when it is developed through this rational decision process:

1  We are confronted with new information

2  We think about it and question it

3  Often, we have some doubt about the accuracy or completeness of what we hear

4  We determine what additional information is needed and then we set out to get it

5  With good data and careful assessment, we develop FAITH that something or someone will act in a certain way

Then, relying on this faith, we make our decision.

The greater the quantity and accuracy of our information, and the more rigorous our doubt and questioning, the stronger our faith will be.

In this respect, development of spiritual faith is like development of faith in other areas of life. It grows out of an inner processing of information, with doubt being the catalyst in the process.

What’s dangerous is when a person cares so little about spiritual matters that he doesn’t think about them enough to even struggle with doubt, or when he remains stuck in doubt for a long time without getting more information.

A wise person will be willing to alter what he has been taught to believe – or what he is expected to believe – if the evidence of his own search leads to new and more accurate understanding.

Important questions

Philosophers throughout the ages have not been able to pose any questions more discerning than these three:

Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?

We can never rise higher than what we believe. Our beliefs shape our attitudes, motivations and decisions, and thus determine our future.

Our existence is essentially empty and meaningless without strong faith arising from a careful personal investigation into the meaning and purpose of life.

Empty inside

We may be able to fool others into thinking that all is going well, but we can’t fool ourselves. Even when things look good on the outside, life can be empty on the inside, as illustrated by these comments:

• I’m president of the company, but I don’t know who I am

• I have a Ph.D., but I don’t know what I believe

• I’m famous, but I’m lonely

• I’m a multi-millionaire, but I’m not happy

It's part of the human experience to be engulfed at times by feelings of restlessness and futility. This happens when we discover, sooner or later, that power, education, esteem and affluence cannot satisfy the real craving of the soul.

Only God can fill that God-shaped vacuum within us.

These feelings – sometimes described as spiritual hunger – can actually be good for us if they prompt inquiry and development of spiritual faith.

What matters

A measure of a person’s wisdom and maturity is how far out in time he can plan and work.

Here's a question to put things in perspective:

Will anything I do today make any difference to me 100 years from now?

Over the long run, most thoughts really don’t matter very much, but what we think about God – and how we respond to him – affects us forever.

Nothing is more important than the accuracy of our spiritual faith.

 

Bible study Christian faith
Bible study Christian faith