Is faith based on any type of proof, knowledge, or reason to trust? Or, is it subjective hope and wishful thinking?
ESV - 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
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My understanding on this subject is referenced in Heb 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The original Greek for faith is "pistis" which means assurance; substance/"hypostasis" or support;hoped/"noieo" or considered/understood; evidence/"elenchos" or proved. From the above original derivations, one sees the context has symmetry and consistent with proof; something real, present and seen; not future as in hope or wishful thinking. Paul differentiated faith from "hope" in Rom.8:24 "...hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?" Faith without proof is dead and can only be proven or shown with "works"(James 2:14-26). Faith in Jesus means proof of Jesus and his power. Being the Creator YHVH, he can deliver what he promised to us, from whence we hope to receive actual salvation in the future when we are changed from "mortality to immortality in a twinkling of an eye" (I Cor. 15:51-53). Notice that the personhood and historical reality of Jesus serve as the evidence, the anchor and substance of our hope. Having faith means having proof or evidence from which one derives conviction. Faith in the Father means proof of the Father, his existence, All-powerful, that being so, in itself is evidence that he can deliver. The faith of Abraham is evidence-based as he was talking to EL SHADDAI/YHVH himself. He knows that this person is Almighty and can deliver what he promised. While our faith is essential for salvation, the initiating event is the faith "of" Jesus in the Father, without which, our own faith is meaningless. Jesus has faith because as YHVH Creator of Genesis, he was with the Father from the beginning; a definite proof.
I would recommend you try this website: coldcasechristianity.com J. Warner Wallace is a cold case detective and he examined the Bible just as he would a police case. He was an atheist when he started; he's a Christian now because the EVIDENCE led him to faith. Our faith is not a "blind - believe it because the Bible says it" faith. It's evidential and has many proofs. He also wrote a book called Forensic Faith to help you understand why Christianity is true and to defend it to those who challenge it. I listen to his podcasts (subscribe for free on iTunes) and watch him on DirecTV (NRB channel). Very solid, unemotional approach to Christianity. If you want to know WHY you believe, try him out.
Before giving my opinion on the matter I have a couple of references... Pistis is the Greek word in this passage. According to Strongs concordance: Pistis: Persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:--assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity. Also Easton's Bible Dictionary definition of faith. Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true. (Phil 1:27; 2 Thess 2:13). Having read those, I would say it is quite different than wishful thinking. I can hope for anything but where did that hope come from? My own desires? God gave me faith and I chose to put the faith He gave me back to Him. Faith is much greater than wishful thinking. Faith is believing, wishful thinking has a sense of greater uncertainty.
Faith in God, to me in my short answer fashion, is the single most important "event" of any of my internal mental and self-realization of pure Truth experiences of my entire life! The night I put my total and complete trust in God, through His son, Jesus Christ and experienced inner peace and comfort within the deepest part of my heart was one of "ya know, that ya know...that you know!" Jesus Christ --that blessed night-- became the single most important focus in my life, the most important relationship in my life, and the single answer to any trial, test or challenge I might face daily, both good or bad! God tells us to "believe on the name of His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and "to trust in the Lord in all our ways and acknowledge Him in all we do and He will (Shall) direct our paths!" The single most significant difference between "faith" and "wishful thinking" is that "with true faith in God" it is really one of "you know that you know that you know...." --Andy--
Wishful thinking has been disguising itself as "faith" since the early days of creation. They might seem to be related, but they aren't even distant cousins. Abraham didn't dream of a land of his own and descendants to reflect the vastness of the stars in the sky. He was given a promise by God and he believed God (Gen 12:4) and following. By contrast, Isaiah 14:13,14 tell of Lucifer's plan to exalt himself above his Master, a plot he dreamed up on his own, wishful thinking. Faith is believing in someone or something other than yourself, with your belief as the only proof you need or have to hold on to. When I was a kid I asked my Dad for a mini bike. I never got it. Whatever he gave me instead made me forget about what I'd asked for. Again, I asked for a go-cart. I never got one. He got me something else and I was happy with it. I don't remember ever being disappointed even though I often didn't get what I asked for. He trusted God to guide him on how to raise his boys and we, his boys, trusted him. He was so good at explaining to us what he thought about our "wishes." He explained to me that if he had gotten me a mini bike or go-cart, I would have to only ride it in that little small yard that we had, but if he bought me a bike I could actually ride it to the store and other places. I began to trust (have faith) in his way of thinking. My "wishes" were heavily flawed. Abraham had a desire to father a son who would succeed him. In the passage of time he had given up hope of ever realizing his "wish" to be a dad. That's when the Lord showed up in his story, and when He did, Abraham trusted in the word that God gave him, even though it seemed impossible. With a wife who had gone through menopause a natural pregnancy WAS impossible. Faith in God in "impossible" circumstances far outweighs "wishful thinking." Ephesians 2:6 says we've been raised with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. It sounds impossible, but I believe it because I trust in His word, the Scriptures. God is not a man that He should lie (Num 13:19). Someone will say 'well if God spoke to me about my impossible situation I would believe Him too, but He hasn't.' Maybe He has and that someone was too busy to hear Him. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Peter said that when he was summoned to come and preach to Cornelius and his household, Gentiles. He now realized that what God had previously limited to the Jews, or so he thought, His blessings, were now available to all. Wishful thinking is fine for children. I'd never tell a child to stop exercising their imaginative skills, that imagination is useless. But there comes a time when we have to put aside childish things (1 Cor 13:11). Faith is the successor to "wishful thinking."
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