April 12, 2021

All people are different and they understand certain concepts differently. Before we draw hasty conclusions, it is worth listening to a person to the end and understanding what he means by this or that word. For me in counseling practice, this has become a good rule: “… let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.” (James 1:19). Often, without listening and understanding what a person means, we jump to quick conclusions and give rash advice without bringing a matter to the feet of our Lord.

The norm of the language is changing, the culture is changing, and with it the definitions, familiar to us, concepts that initially had a harmless meaning, but over time acquired a different meaning. For example, words such as democracy, political correctness and tolerance, which in themselves carry a good message, have become distorted over time.

 Very often, when we talk to our children about faith, we introduce them to this concept without explaining what we mean by this word. After all, you can believe in a lie and do it sincerely. I think you’ve often heard from brothers and sisters in Christ these words: “Just believe! The main thing is to believe!” And it is so sad to come across souls who have been in need of spiritual care for years, tormented and tortured for a long time in unresolved and unconquered sins, which have become addiction and a net for them. And in response, instead of practical help, biblical advice and intercessory prayers, they are told: “Just believe!”, thus passing by the wounded soul, like those priest and Levite from Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan.

So what does it mean to believe? What should we believe in and how? What do we mean by this term “faith”? Faith is often presented from the wrong side. As a result, our children and recently converted people come to a superficial understanding, where faith is built not on rock, but on sand and is so shaky and unstable under the pressure of the waters of problems that the soul does not find that living water from which, it would seem, the person should have found peace and joy, and no longer thirst again. For this reason, Jesus Himself asks this question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Faith is established, rooted and grown. Moreover, “… without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). 1 John 5:4 says: “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” And in 1 Peter 2:2 it says: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation”. According to this Scripture, it is necessary to grow in faith. Finally, in James 2:14, the Apostle speaks of faith expressing itself through works: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” From the above-mentioned Scriptures, we can see that works are evidence of living faith. In support of this, James further writes in verse 22: “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?”

However, today’s vague and obscure concept of faith has become fertile ground for atheists to such an argument: “Faith and reason are completely opposite.” Therefore, in their understanding, faith has become a kind of dead inactive theological term. Unfortunately, in the understanding of the faith of many Christians, faith remains only a dead letter, so often used by them, which has no weight and authority, and therefore does not glorify our Heavenly Father in the eyes of this world. Many believers themselves, not realizing what faith is, bought into a superficial definition of it. Without being rooted in faith, they seem to retreat and lock themselves into their spiritually proud fortress, where they use this term without reasoning, because reason seems to contradict faith. Therefore, when faced with unbelieving people, in their eyes we look like gullible Christians with a set of unreasonable beliefs.

However, the definition of faith and the definition of reason are of great importance.

What is reason? According to the dictionary, it is “the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements logically; common sense”. So, in the basis of the definition, the ability to think is emphasized. And it depends on how we think whether our act will be reasonable or reckless. I have never met a single person who does not use his mind at all. In faith, we cannot rely solely on our mind, but genuine faith uses reason to test it for truth, because we are not mindless.

You can often hear how gullible or, better to say, naive Christians are told that they should not test anything at all, and most importantly believe and accept, especially when it comes to certain spiritual experiences. Unsurprisingly, such Christians often have unbiblical views, or even outright misleading. Ironically, such people themselves cannot agree with each other, referring to their “revelations”. But the Holy Spirit in Himself is not divided. He never lies. It comes to the point that such a person becomes occultly burdened, and even possessed. It is not in vain that Scripture warns us that in the last days it is the believers (teachers or so-called prophets, as well as from among believers in general) who will heed deceiving spirits and teachings of demons.

So, such people in particular resist that a person uses common sense and tests this or that for the truth. Is this approach consistent with Scripture? Let us remember how the author Luke in the book of Acts speaks about the converts in Berea: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11) Before they believed and received the Holy Spirit, they, using reason, tested on the basis of Scripture, whether what was being preached to them was true. After all, the truth is based not on spiritual experiences, but on the Word of God, which is the undeniable revelation of the Lord Himself. Apostle Paul warns us about this in Galatians 1:8 “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” For this very reason, for many atheists, faith becomes unattractive. Nevertheless, I believe that every person, in the depth of his heart, longs for the truth.

Basically, atheists believe that a Christian’s faith is groundless, devoid of evidence, and, as a result, blind. In a nutshell, their faith is unreasonable. But, the matter is not that it is the believers only who might have such a problem. There are also many unreasonable atheists. And their life also testifies to this. After all, it is not the exclusive right of atheists to think reasonably just because they have come to a certain worldview. It is worth recognizing that in scientific circles, scientists look at the same thing differently and there are also debates and arguments among them. At least to some extent, faith is blind, but this does not make it groundless and unreasonable, given the rest of the beliefs, which are based on facts and evidence, and often experiences. And it really would be foolish to believe that, for example, my daughter’s doll is a living thing. If faith is presented in this format, then it is faith in a lie, no matter how sincere it may be. Such a belief is groundless and unreasonable. However, Christians do have evidence and reasons that give them confidence in what they believe. Therefore, it is unreasonable to assert that, ostensibly, Christians have no grounds and evidence for their faith. Atheists have presented such a superficial understanding of faith in today’s culture that the very word “faith” seems to sound unreasonable. But, personally, I have never met a person in my life who would not believe in anything. There will be areas of his life where he uses blind faith until someone suggests a reasonable option and he personally tests it. In this way, a person gains experience.

So what does the Bible tell us about faith?

The most famous Scripture defining faith is found in Hebrews 11:1, where it says: “Now faith is the substance (realization) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” or as the ESV puts it: “the conviction of things not seen.”  It is the phrase “hoped for” that confuses atheists into thinking that such a belief is based on wishful thinking. In other words, it is desire-driven thinking. But the very important word “assurance” or “realization” is not taken into account here. It is not written here that the assurance is based on some fantasy, but on conviction or confidence. In other words, faith does not imply an unreasonable plunge into the unknown. Rather, it argues that Christians have good reasons for faith, leading to assurance (realization), and hence conviction. Therefore, faith for a child of God is confidence and trust in what confirms itself to be true. It is never, as in some Christian circles, when they ask you to “proclaim” that you are healed, and then pass it off as reality, but when healing happens as a fact. Christ never asked people to do this, nor did His disciples after the descent of the Holy Spirit to earth. Faith is confirmed by truth, it is fulfilled, realized and in turn gives us confidence.

All people, without exception, practice faith to one degree or another. When you board an airplane, you do not check the pilot’s license, the mechanic’s log, or the cargo for explosives. We get on the plane and fly believing that we will arrive at our destination. Do you have any reason to believe the airline? Yes. This is faith.

Thus, trusting in Jesus as your Savior makes sense where the mind is involved. This is evidenced by the following Scriptures: “And He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your MIND.” (Matt. 22:37). Paul writes: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Cor. 13:11). In other words, now I am reasoning in a mature way. This idea is confirmed by the following Scripture, where Paul writes: “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Cor. 14:20). And further, every believer by the Apostle Peter was given the command: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). We must be able to give answers about our faith to any interested person.

At last, we come to the conclusion that faith in Christ is not without foundation. The best evidence of God’s love is the historical fact of the existence of Jesus Christ, as well as the fulfillment in Him of the Old Testament prophecies in sacrificial death on the Cross and resurrection for our justification. Scripture itself tells us: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). The love of God is also not groundless. He proved it in reality. The very life of Jesus Christ is the evidence of His divine nature. His love manifested itself in deeds. About this Christ says: “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.” (John 10:25). In another case He says: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (John 14:11). His evidence was miracles, as well as His very life, which manifests His blameless character. Otherwise, how could people buy into such an impostor and trust Him with their eternal destiny? And to this day, in our time, believers are ready to sacrifice their lives for such a faith. Jesus was who He said He was. And, of course, the most striking evidence was His resurrection, through which He gives us new life, and we become a new creature. Otherwise, our faith is in vain.

Atheists cannot hijack the meaning of faith and redefine it. Biblical faith is based on reason and evidence. You, Christian, have nothing to be ashamed of if you truly believe. Your children cannot blindly take your faith at your word, they must see the faith at work in your life. They must see the Living Christ in you! Then they can personally experience living faith in their lives with solid foundations and unshakable hope.

God bless you!

Max Volkov in Christ