A Story About Faith – How to Illustrate Biblical Faith

I’m On the Road

Greetings from the desert! Today, I’m blogging from a hotel room in Palm Springs, CA.

I just finished doing an all-day apologetics training event at Our Savior’s Church for the Desert Apologetics Network. Dr. Craig Hazen closed up the event and we got a great reception from this group. One of my presentations was on using stories, objects and illustrations to explain your faith.

Let me give you a sample of something I shared about the biblical concept of faith.

In this post, I’ll show you a simple way to contrast the pop culture definition of the word, “faith” with the biblical definition of the word, “faith.” Because they’re actually pretty different.

The Pop Culture Definition of Faith

Ever heard a story about faith that characterized it as a blind leap into the dark? It’s interesting to see how many people say that faith is the opposite of reason.
I’ve heard people say, “If you have all this evidence, how can you have any faith?” Or “I thought faith wasn’t supposed to having anything to do with reason. I thought faith was just this blind leaping into some sort of religious experience.”

That definition really isn’t too far off…if you heard a spiritual guru tell a story about faith on a daytime talk show or something. In a pop culture context, it’s all about taking a blind leap in the dark. But that’s not the Biblical concept of faith. So, what’s the historic Christian definition?

The Historic Christian Definition of Faith

Biblical faith isn’t a “blind faith” that’s opposed to reason, evidence or logic. For example, in 1st Corinthians 15:17, Paul says:

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

Paul doesn’t encourage a faith that rejects evidence. Instead, he pins the truth of Christianity on a historical event which can be tested for truth by reason and evidence. Paul says that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, Christianity is a total lie.

So, biblical faith isn’t “blind faith.” Rather, it’s an active trust that’s dependent on a historical event that can be investigated. You can find a Christian definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

So faith isn’t just wishing. It’s having real assurance. What’s that assurance based on? Evidence. Now how does that work?

A Biblical Story About Faith

Think about the exodus account in the Old Testament. God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And He did it through all these supernatural attacks on the Egyptians, “that they may know that there is a God in Israel.” That’s a phrase used at least 10 times from Exodus 4 through 14.

God didn’t tell the Israelites, “Just have faith.” He gave them some pretty good reasons to take Him seriously. Read Exodus 14:31

And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

So in this story about faith, the evidence actually came first. The faith came later, as a result of seeing this stuff with their own eyes.

Illustrations About Faith

Let me give you an illustration that contrasts the pop culture concept of faith with the historic Christian concept:

A Story About Faith – The Blind Kind

Imagine you really wanted a one of those new iPads. And what if you just wished as hard as you could that a brand new iPad would magically appear at your doorstep? Say one day, you came home fully expecting to use your new iPad. So much so that you even stopped off at Best Buy to pick up a cool case for it. That whole set-up would be kind of like this idea of a “blind leaping” into the dark, right?

Or say your entered a contest on the Internet to win a brand new iPad. You hope you’d win. But you’ve got no assurance there, right? See, blind faith is just a like blowing out your birthday candles and making a wish. Or chucking a coin into a fountain or a wishing well. You’ve got nothing. That’s pretty much the pop culture take on faith.

Another Story About Faith – The Evidence Kind

But now on the other hand, imagine you went online and bought yourself an iPad! Later, you got the confirmation e-mail saying “thanks for your purchase.” Eventually, you get an e-mail from UPS saying I’ve got a package scheduled to be delivered the very next day. The next day, you get an e-mail saying it’s on the truck to your house. You get the tracking number and track
this thing at work until it’s scanned as delivered. Maybe your spouse is home and you get a text saying, “Your iPad is here.”

Now as you’re driving home, if you want to pick up a cool case or something, you’ve got a pretty good idea—a hope that isn’t based on some fairy tale—that you are going to be using your new iPad around dinner time.

And you know this, even though you’re not actually looking at your new iPad just yet.

This is the kind of concept we see when you read a story about faith in the Bible: Evidence, that leads to knowledge, that  gives you an assurance of things you can’t see.

So “blind faith” is like chucking a coin into fountain. But biblical faith is more like tracking a package.

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10 Responses to “A Story About Faith – How to Illustrate Biblical Faith”

  1. Kim Friesen May 20, 2012 8:02 PM
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    Great article Mikel! Over the past 6 months I’ve thought about why I believe what I do and where my faith in Jesus comes from. Sometimes, honestly speaking, I have even doubted. The thing though that consistently comes back to me is all the things Christ has done for me. From saving my marriage from inevitable divorce to healing our then 9 month old daughter from an unknown illness (at one time thought to be liver cancer) to everything else in-between. It’s not the blind leap that has built my faith but the answers I have received along the way when I truly sought the face of God. It’s knowing Him, the relationship with Him, the evidence of Him, that has built my faith. This is why I believe what I believe.

  2. Apologetics Guy May 20, 2012 11:29 PM
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    I appreciate your comments. We can definitely trust in what we know to be true. And it makes total sense to trust in the Trustworthy one, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing, Kim! :-)

  3. Bryan May 24, 2012 12:40 PM
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    Fantastic post! Gonna Tweet out!

    • Apologetics Guy May 24, 2012 1:15 PM
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      Glad you found this helpful. Thanks, Bryan!

  4. Joe Oliver June 5, 2012 8:47 PM
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    Fantastic article. I found your site while browsing Holly Ordway’s site. Im glad I found it.
    Thanks.

    • Apologetics Guy June 5, 2012 11:05 PM
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      Thanks for the comment, Joe. Feel free to share this post with your social networks. BTW, love Holly’s story and her book. Glad you found my blog through her!

  5. Yiam Cross June 7, 2012 5:14 PM
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    So when you get home you find god on your doormat? Or UPS delivered him? I agree that you can order an iPad online and have reasonable faith that it will be delivered but I thought you hit the nail on the head regarding the existence of god with your first illustration. You can wish as hard as you like that god will appear or do something for you but there’s as much chance of that happening as finding your wished for iPad on the doormat.

    One thing confuses me, how come your god has stopped producing the evidence he was happy to churn out for the biblical Israelites? Just asking.

    • Apologetics Guy June 7, 2012 6:32 PM
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      Hey, Yiam. Thanks for your comment. You said, “I thought you hit the nail on the head regarding the existence of god with your first illustration.” That’s probably because the popular culture definition of faith is often associated with Christianity. But biblical faith isn’t blind faith.

      What kind of evidence are you referring to? How do you know God has stopped providing evidence for His existence?

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