What Does it Mean to Have Faith in God?
A few summers ago I spoke at a camp in northern California. Topics for the week included intelligent design, the reliability of Scripture, and the historical resurrection of Jesus. On the last day of camp, a young Christian woman complained that if I proved the existence of God, then there would be no room for faith.
Although she meant well, she was deeply confused about the nature of faith. She had a view similar to Mark Twain, who famously defined faith as "believing something you know ain't so." Many people today understand faith as a blind act of the will regardless of the evidence. But the Bible has a very different understanding of faith. Biblical faith is a trust in God because He has shown Himself to be trustworthy and dependable.
Understood this way, we see that faith in God is not unlike the faith we put in other people. The more evidence we find that someone is truly kind, honest, and dependable, the more likely we are to trust him or her. I did not put my "faith" in my wife when I first met her. Rather, I spent time getting to know her, learning about her passions in life, and examining her character. After spending time with her I was convinced that she was (and still is!) a trustworthy person who I want to be with for the rest of my life.
The same is true with faith in God. He wants us to get to know Him so we can see that He is trustworthy. In fact, God expects faith from us because He's given us good evidence of His dependable character, as when He showered Egypt with miracles before inviting Israel to follow Him into the wilderness (Ex 7-14). Rather than asking Israel for blind allegiance, God performed miracles through Moses so they could have a reasonable faith in Him. Miracles were done so the people would believe in God and His servant Moses (Ex 14:31).
God frequently performed miracles in the Bible so people would have confidence in His character. Before healing the paralytic, Jesus said, "So you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mk 2:10). Jesus healed the man so people would now He spoke with authority from above. Jesus did miracles because He was good, but also as confirmation of His identity. John says Jesus' miracles were recorded "so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah", the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name (Jn 20:31).
Faith isn't something we exercise just once. We need faith daily. It is a mistake to trust God for the "big" things of heaven (like salvation) but not the "little" things on earth (like daily guidance). God invites us to trust Him moment by moment for all of our concerns. He is a well-seasoned guide who never leads us astray. We can follow God's Son Jesus because He is the smartest, most powerful person around, and He loves us beyond all measure.
This article can be found in "Apologetics Study Bible for Students", page 67.
Please also see our comprehensive study for the book of Exodus that includes commentary from www.enduringword.com.