In the New Testament Greek, the word “pistis” is translated as “faith” (x239), “assurance”(x1), “belief”(x1), and “fidelity”(x1). This is the noun form of the word. In English, there is no verb form for the word “faith”, so they had to use something else to translate the verb form of the Greek word, “pisteuo”. They translated “pisteuo” as “believe” (also x239), “commit”(x7), and “trust”(x2).
Recognizing the relationship between the noun, “faith”, and the verb, “believe”, helps give us a clearer understanding of what faith is all about. When we believe God’s Word, we are “faithing”, “doing faith”, or “exercising our faith”. Hebrews 11:6 is the classic verse regarding faith, and it says, “Without faith (noun) it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe (verb) that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
In other words, faith is not some “fuzzy”, nebulous concept that people struggle to develop. It is nothing more than simply believing God’s Word. That belief, or trust, in the truth and validity of God’s Word, can be strengthened or developed in our spirits. The more we saturate ourselves with God’s Word, the easier it is for us to believe that it is true, and that what it says about God is true. And the more we use our faith, the stronger it becomes, and the easier it will be for us to believe even more of God’s promises.
Different Kinds of Faith
In the practical experiences of life, there are different kinds of faith. The first of these is Unreasonable Faith. That is a belief in something when there is NO evidence, either way, that it is true. An example of this would be the child’s belief that there are monsters hiding under the bed, when they haven’t even looked to see if there were any.
A second kind of faith is Blind Faith. This is a belief in something when there is real evidence that it is NOT true – the person is “blind” to the facts, and goes on believing something that is not true – a lie. The best example of this would be the almost universal belief that the theory of evolution is demonstrably true, when there is a “ton” of objective scientific evidence that it is not.
The third kind of faith is Reasonable Faith. This is belief in something based on the weight of the objective evidence that it is TRUE. The best example of this is Christianity.
The early Christians believed in the resurrection of Jesus because of the evidence – 1) they had seen, touched, and eaten with Him for 40 days after He rose from the dead, or 2) they had listened to (and cross-examined) the testimonies of those who had done so, or 3) they had finally admitted that the reports of Jesus’ resurrection were true, despite not believing, initially, that it was so.
Example #1 would be the case with the disciples themselves, and anyone else who personally met the resurrected Jesus. They believed based on personal experience with the physical evidence. Example #2 would be the case with those who were disciples of the original disciples, or the disciples of those second – or third – generation disciples. They believed based on the testimony of those they knew had actually seen Jesus. Example #3 would be the case for every other convert. We, who have come later, have to depend on the testimonies of those who would have been eyewitnesses of the events in the New Testament and have passed on their accounts to us, either in the Bible or through other documentation. None of us started out as believers, but we changed our minds when we honestly evaluated the evidence.
Going back to the verse in Hebrews, “he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Let’s break that down. Anyone who comes to God must believe 2 things: 1) that He is; and 2) that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. How do we know? Is it a blind faith or unreasonable faith to believe these things? No, it’s reasonable. Why?
Ready To Give An Answer
We can believe these things because of the weight of objective proof, or evidence, that they are true. The Bible itself is our surest evidence of the truth or validity of the Christian religion. But we are not forced to rely only on the Bible, especially when those we are sharing with don’t accept the Bible as a reliable source. There is plenty of evidence, from science, history, etc., that supports and confirms what the Bible says. This evidence doesn’t replace the Biblical record, but it can serve to open the mind of the skeptic to the possibility of the Bible being true. Only the Holy Spirit can open their hearts to the Gospel message, but we do have a role to play in the process.
1 Peter 3:15 says for us to, “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” In other words, we are commanded to be prepared to provide evidence that a skeptic can examine, that can inform them of the truth of the Gospel.
That’s the approach that Paul took, in Acts 17, to introduce the Greeks to the Gospel. They had no background in the Scriptures, like the Jews did on the Day of Pentecost as Peter’s audience. So, they had no frame of reference to understand his teaching on redemption and salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection. Paul’s strategy was to take them all the way back to creation, and present evidence of the reality of the Jewish God. Once he laid that foundation, he was able to build on it.
Our society today is more like the Greeks than the Jews. Most people are Biblically illiterate, and even those who are familiar with the Bible do not always believe it. It is our job, as Christ’s ambassadors on Earth, to let people know that there are valid reasons for believing the Bible.