Lesson 2

Faith

(Hebrews 11, Psalms 19, John 20, 1 Peter 1, Luke 8)
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Introduction: We are told that faith is not a rational conviction. Do you agree? Consider that the disciples believed Jesus was coming back during their lifetime. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). It is now about 2,000 years later. I've waited for people who are late, and I've been late. But, on the face of it, this seems a little ridiculous. Have you ever believed anything which was completely irrational? Something on which there is not a scrap of evidence? We call these superstitions! What does the Bible say about faith? Is it beyond evidence? Are we expected to wait thousands of years without any proof whatsoever that we are not fools? Or, does faith have an evidentiary root on which we can build? Let's dive into the Bible and find out!

  1. No Evidence?


    1. Read Hebrews 11:1. What does this text say is the evidentiary basis for our faith?(Our hopes and things we do not see.)


      1. I'm no expert in Greek, but Hebrews 11:1 in the Greek seems to say about faith "the evidence is not seen." Does that mean the people who say faith is not a rational conviction are right?


        1. Or, does it mean there really is evidence for faith, we are just not "eye-witnesses" to it?


    2. Read Hebrews 11:3. Are we eye witnesses to this? (No.)


      1. Is there something to be seen here? (Yes. We see the universe.)


      2. Is it true the "the evidence is not seen" for our faith that God formed the universe at His command? (We did not see God do it. An oral "command" would not be visible even if we were observing the event.)


    3. Read Psalms 19:1-3. Do David and the writer of Hebrews have a difference of opinion?


      1. Hebrews 11:3 tells us only by faith do we believe God created the universe. King David says the heavens are making a factual statement ("declare," "display knowledge" about our Creator God. Everyone hears and can understand this message. Which one, David or Hebrews, has the better argument?


    4. Look around you. What does the evidence that you see every day tell you about whether your universe evolved or whether it had an Intelligent Designer?


      1. How does your yard or garden fare without human intervention?


      2. How does your house fare without human intervention?


      3. How does your car fare without human intervention?


      4. How does your job fare without human intervention? (I don't know about you, but my yard, my house, my car and my job are in constant need of my attention - that is to say they cannot survive without an "outside intelligence." If no human intervened, they would cease to have a productive existence.)


    5. My perception is that the leading current scientific explanation for the universe is the Big Bang theory in which the universe exploded from a single point in a single event. What is the scientific evidence for this? (The universe is expanding uniformly in all directions.)


      1. Is this also evidence that a Creator God in a point in time spoke the universe into existence?


      2. Scientists believe the rate of expansion of the universe is critical. If it expanded too quickly, gravitational forces would weaken and the universe would "explode." If it expanded too slowly, gravitational forces would overpower the expansion and the universe would implode. Is this evidence for a random, chance "bang," or a Designer who precisely set the rate of expansion?


    6. Read Hebrews 11:4. Was Abel without evidence for his faith in God? (He had evidence all around him. The inference is that God spoke directly to Cain and Abel ( Genesis 4:6).)


      1. So, what, exactly, is the object of Abel's faith? (His faith was in God. Trust in God was the focus of Abel's faith.)


      2. We are told Abel still speaks. What does he say to you? On what do you base your faith in what he says? (Abel's short story ( Genesis 4:1-10) has all sorts of statements about faith. It tells us that rejecting God leads to the most serious of sins. It tells us that obeying God may not mean we have a perfect life here. It suggests that God will come through for us in the long-term.)


  2. First Faith Example: Thomas


    1. Read John 20:19-25. Did Thomas have any evidence that Jesus had been resurrected? (Yes. He had the testimony of several reliable eye-witnesses.)


      1. What kind of evidence did Thomas demand? (First hand evidence.)


    2. Read John 20:26-29. What kind of faith does Jesus commend? (Those who have not seen, but have believed.)


      1. Is Jesus asking for blind, irrational faith? (Two things. First, Jesus gives Thomas precisely the kind of proof he requested. Second, the "blessed" people are those who believe based on the testimony of others. Jesus is not asking His followers to imagine He was resurrected.)


  3. Second Faith Example: You


    1. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5. Verse 5 refers to us being shielded by "faith." What are we being shielded against? (Read 1 Peter 1:6. Our faith shields us from discouragement when difficult events arise.)


      1. Look again at 1 Peter 1:3-5. What is the object of our faith? (That God will give us a new life in an earth made new. Our hope in this is based on Jesus' resurrection from the dead.)


    2. Read 1 Peter 1:8. Are we eye-witnesses to Jesus' resurrection? (No.)


    3. Read 1 Peter 1:10-12. Are we without evidence of Jesus' resurrection? (No. We have Peter's statement about this. But, more than that, we have the fulfilled prophecies about Jesus. These Old Testament prophets were speaking to us when they wrote the prophecies about Jesus.)


  4. Third Faith Example: Jairus


    1. Read Luke 8:40-42. Did Jairus have faith? In what was his faith? (His faith (hope?) was that Jesus would heal his sick daughter.)


      1. Was Jairus' faith irrational?


    2. Read Luke 8:43-49. Has Jairus any evidence that Jesus will help him? (He had some evidence, but now all the evidence is in and Jesus has failed him.)


    3. Read Luke 8:50. Has Jairus any evidence now that Jesus will help him?


      1. If you said, "Yes," what is that evidence?


    4. Read Luke 8:51-56. What was the state of faith of the mourners prior to verse 54?


      1. Look specifically at verse 56. What is the level of Jairus' faith? (The parents were astonished - which suggests that Jairus did not have faith that his daughter would be raised from the dead.)


    5. What does this last story teach us about our faith in God and the state of evidence for our faith? (First, it shows us that even when the evidence indicates God has let us down, our faith should wait on God's timing. Second, Jairus had evidence in the power of Jesus - if only because of the healing of that (spit, spit) woman who delayed Jesus so that his daughter died. What required a faith not seen was the extent of the miracle - resurrection!)


    6. Friend, there is plenty of evidence for faith. Will you hold fast to your faith, even when you do not have "eye-witness" evidence, or when what you see is contrary evidence? If you wait, in faith, Jesus will give you eternal life! If you feel yourself begin to doubt, look at the universe and the creation and ask yourself if this looks like it could come about by chance.


  5. Next week: Hope.

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