Faith, Hope & Risk
What is Faith? “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I encourage many people to choose faith in God’s Word that He sent His Son to pay the penalty for their sins so that they can go to Heaven. One frequent answer I get is that they do not have faith, or enough faith, to believe. Some will say, “You have great faith, I’m just not like you.” This is a fallacy – everyone has great faith.
Let’s look at air travel as an example of faith. There are about 10 million flights in and out of airports in the U.S. every year. The average number of passengers on a given flight, depending on aircraft size, is about 250. So, approximately 2.5 billion people travel in and out of U.S. airports annually. A conservative estimate of worldwide air travel would be at least ten times this figure, or 25 billion people.
The average weight of a commercial airplane is about 200 tons. All humans are familiar with gravity, whether experientially and/or scientifically. If we let go of a paper clip, it reaches the ground in one second (give or take some nanoseconds). Typically, a 747 will use over 80,000 gallons of jet fuel on takeoff. This is the volume of energy needed to defy gravity.
Let’s consider the actual process of air flight. The plane must take off safely (sometimes over a major city); it must stay airborne anywhere from 1 –20 hours; it must remain on course, and land on a targeted and limited section of ground without crashing. Also, the aircraft and its numerous components must be in near perfect working order on every flight. A few ordinary men and women must accomplish all of this, despite human imperfections and weaknesses, and deal with adverse weather conditions when they arise.
Add to this that the vast majority of passengers have little or no knowledge about the science of air travel. Nevertheless, roughly 500 million people take this risk every day. This is an enormous demonstration of faith. And, this faith is placed in fallible man and a very complex machine, but a machine nonetheless. How is this possible and how does it relate to the above verse?
Let’s examine “hope.” It is something very integral to the human experience and it is always related to a future event. Hope always has some element of evidence and assumption connected to it. Not many people are saying that they hope to visit Jupiter some day. Why? Because it’s outside the realm of possibility, and there is no evidence on which one can reasonably rely about getting there. No one has hope that they will live this life forever. Evidence to the contrary is enormous.
Why do people assume their flight will get them to their destination safely? Prior evidence, both internal and external, is the only contributing factor. People know other people, who have successfully flown from point A to point B. Air travelers trust that the plane is mechanically sound because of company policy, government regulation, and technical training. The pilot’s in-depth education and experience provides further confidence for the traveler. However, the most compelling evidence is statistics on air travel safety. Despite this evidence, risk is not eliminated – only reduced.
For those who have never flown before there is very little internal evidence to rely on, which is why the thought of taking off and landing is among their greatest fears. However, the more a person flies, the more internal evidence a person gains. Some people have such high internal confidence that air flight is nothing more than a casual occurrence that they actually sleep or read a book during take-off and landing.
(In case you have never flown on an airplane and never plan to do so, this example is just as analogous to surgery, buying a house, having children, getting married or any other high-risk choices you make in life. Faith is just as integral to the human experience as is hope.)
Notice in the above verse, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” In order for this type of hope to exist, it must certainly be within the realm of possibility, and the evidence for successful fulfillment must be overwhelming. A frequent flyer is very assured of his or her safety in air travel.
Further, it is “…the conviction of things not seen.” We are all familiar with believing something we cannot see. We can measure the wind, feel the wind, and see its results, but we can never see the wind. The same is true of air travel. Based on experience, statistical measurement and results, we board a plane, not really knowing for sure (seeing) if this particular flight will be like all the rest
Even intangibles, such as love, hate, and joy can be measured and felt. A child knows that his or her mother loves them. He or she has felt it and can measure it in comparison to the treatment received from others that they know.
So, where is this common process of faith when it comes to making a choice about Heaven or Hell? The primary reason is that people are consumed with the here and now. No one thinks about air travel until they have to travel. People put off thinking about dying and the hereafter, until it’s time to go. Unfortunately, for most people, they don’t know the time of departure. And the few that do know are so indoctrinated with fables or wishful thinking that it is nearly impossible to make the correct decision.
I contend that evolutionists and atheists have greater faith than I do. The atheist believes there is no God, but is unable to provide any tangible and scientific evidence that He does not exist. The evolutionist believes all that we see around us is the result of randomness. You’ll have to admit that both beliefs require a significant amount of blind faith.
On the other hand, the existence of God is supported by incredible external evidence. Consider the world around us, the insects, plant life, animals, space, babies, water, vision, mathematics, thought, love, air, anger, light, death, etc.
The existence of God has incredible internal evidence too. What about the conscience, the built-in mechanism that gives all of us a sense of right and wrong? What about those times you consider the wonders of the universe and try to contemplate the absolute order and precision of things? What about the unspeakable joy of loving someone, watching your child grow, or creating a masterpiece of one kind or another? What about that longing we all experience regarding why we exist and our purpose in life?
For those that have put their trust in Christ as their Savior, each passing day gives them more internal conviction (confidence) that their faith is true, their eternal hope is assured, and that God has done and is doing everything He says.
How do you get such faith, you may ask? The Bible tells us, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) No one ever gets on a plane without hearing something about air travel. Further, the knowledge one receives had better come from a credible source. Without credibility of source, no rational-thinking person would take such an enormous risk. Jesus didn’t just say He knew the truth, He said He is the truth (John 14:6). Is there anyone more credible than Him?
You might question what makes Him so trustworthy. Well, He is the Son of God, He created everything that exists, He came down from Heaven, He was born of a virgin, He demonstrated incredible power over nature, disease, and death, His authority regarding the things of God is unequaled, He rose from the dead (over 500 people saw Him after His resurrection), He ascended into Heaven bodily and before numerous witnesses, and God the Father audibly spoke about Him three times during His earthly ministry. I’d say that all this makes Him credible. What other person even comes close to having these attributes?
What about the risk factor? If you choose simple faith in Christ as your Savior, what have you risked? You only risk losing the things that will never last and rarely satisfy. You risk losing the emptiness of soul and the futility of chasing things with little or no substance.
If you reject faith in Christ as your Savior, you risk an eternal separation from all the goodness you experience in this life. You also risk the loss of true joy and peace in this life that only Christ can provide. You risk the loss of a personal relationship with the One Who created you and only has good intentions towards you, the One Who loves you and paid such a tremendous price to make you His child forever.
If you have faith to board a 200-ton missile that will project you through the atmosphere at 35,000 feet and at a rate of 500 mph, don’t you think you owe it to yourself to consider faith in the One that gave His life so that you could have eternal life with Him in heaven?
Jesus said, “…when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
My question to you is, “Will He find faith in you or will you have rejected His generous offer of salvation?”
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