Have Faith in God!

Dan Lenington on December 6, 2013

“Have faith in God.” This simple command is found in Mark 11:22. Jesus directs it to Peter who is surprised at the withering of the fig tree which Jesus had cursed earlier. Though simple, this command is profoundly difficult for us humans to obey. Why are we so surprised when God works? We know that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him,” but there is a desire in thoughtful persons to have all their mental loose ends tied up. We like to tackle a topic in such a way that every question or possible question is covered. In order to accomplish this, it is tempting for many to start simply with their own brain and their own ability to observe and evaluate what is around us. However, this makes our own finite and flawed powers of reason the ultimate standard by which to judge reality. On the other side, God has given to us the ability to reason and a responsibility to reason since we are presented with moral, and philosophical questions. We cannot simply accept an arbitrary moral standard or theory of origins produced by the whim of society nor can we accept just any claim of divine origin and authority for religious answers to these same questions. So God has given us a brain to be used in evaluating claims to truth. But knowing that we are flawed and finite creates in us a great need for outside help. We are dependent upon God to make himself known to us in a way that is clear and undeniably Him.

This is where faith in God comes in to play. We can trust God’s promise to make Himself known to us due to the nature of His character. Now when a Christian looks to the Bible as a record of God’s revelation of Himself many accuse him of circular reasoning. They may say that the Bible cannot be used to prove itself. However, they miss a key feature of what the Bible actually is. It is not the unverifiable account of one man alone in a cave claiming to receive a message from God (i.e. the Koran). It is actually a compilation of 66 books by 40 different writers (not authors) over the course of a 1500 year period writing separate revelations from God that all agree and were verified in space and time by the contemporaries of each writer. So it is not circular reasoning to use the Bible to prove itself since it comprises 40 separate witnesses to the same truths, and records the accounts of countless other prophets and men who share what God revealed to them through an angel or other means. So we are commanded to have faith in God, but this is no blind faith although it may not tie up every mental loose end. God has not revealed the answers to every question but He has revealed everything that is necessary to place our faith in Him and please Him in the process so that we can have the salvation promised in His Son. Praise God that our faith, though mocked, has a valid and solid object in the person of Jesus Christ and in the written Word of God.

But I’ve realized something else too. When I was told in seminary that apologetics were not able to convert souls to Christ, I acknowledged the caution but didn’t fully accept the idea. Somehow I thought that if I could just tie up all the loose ends and answer all the questions for someone they would surely be converted. However, after studying Romans 1 and observing society for the past 5 years especially in the comment sections of religious blog articles, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is only by the conviction of the Holy Spirit that one’s heart can be illuminated to the truth. This is why Christ told the disciples in Acts 1 to wait for the coming of the Spirit before they attempted ministry. Then He told them that their task was simply to be witnesses of what they had seen and heard of Christ. A witness in court is simply called on to give testimony of what they have seen and heard. They are not permitted to take part in arguing the case. Otherwise their testimony would surely be considered biased. The Holy Spirit is the defense attorney in the case for Christ and He will convict and convince the sinner of his need for Christ. Apologetics still have value. They can help believer’s faith grow stronger by providing a more even foundation for their faith. It can also keep an unbeliever’s attention long enough for the Spirit to unearth the real problem (their heart). We must remember that it is “with the heart (not the mind) man believeth unto righteousness” (Rom. 10:10).  Therefore, we must depend constantly on the power and work of the Spirit in evangelism rather than our own grasp of apologetic arguments. Then, God gets the glory as He deserves.