Is faith just wishful thinking?

How is it that during life shattering trials and events we are able to remain joyful and full of faith?

What is Faith and why are we able to have such faith?

Many mockers of Christianity have tried to teach that faith is only wishful thinking, and is the opposite of confidence and knowledge, but this comes from a misunderstanding of Biblical faith.

Biblical Faith is a trust in something we can have a strong confidence in; God’s word.

Because of the faithful, reliable and completely accurate Word we have from God our Creator, when He promises something, we are able to have complete confidence it will happen just like He has said.

When we are told that Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sin and that he is returning again soon, we have a confident assurance that it is, and will happen exactly as God has told us, because His Word is reliable.

Although we don’t yet see Jesus, we have Faith in Him, and His atoning work on the Cross.
Even though we haven’t yet reached glory, we have Faith it is coming, because God has told us so.

“faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1

A.W. Tozer said: “I do not recall another period when ‘faith’ was as popular as it is today. ‘If only we believe hard enough we’ll make it somehow’. So goes the popular chant. ‘What you believe is not important. Only believe…’ What is overlooked in all this is that faith is good only when it engages truth; when it is made to rest upon falsehood it can and often does lead to eternal tragedy. For it is not enough that we believe; we must believe the right thing about the right One.

So Faith is not wishful thinking, it is NOT the opposite of knowledge and confidence.
It’s because of knowledge and confidence in God’s word and His promises that we are able to have Faith in Him.

This faith though is useless if it’s not faith in the right thing.
If the object of your faith is faulty, your faith won’t mean anything.

Consider this, you’ve gone abseiling with a friend.
You find two anchor points at the top of the cliff to connect your rope and harness to, one is made of steal and is drilled into the rock, the other is made from cheap plastic and is only glued to the dirt.

You decide to connect yourself to the steal anchor point because of your knowledge of it’s strength and security.
Your friend who knows nothing about abseiling, safety or gravity decides to connect to the plastic anchor.

Now for either of you to go over the edge of the cliff you have to exercise faith in your equipment. You have to at least trust that it will hold you.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6

But how much faith do you need for your anchor to save you?
Only enough to use it. The strength and safety is in the anchor not the quantity of your faith.

What about your friend with the dodgy anchor point. If he has faith like a mountain, will that save him? No, because his faith is misplaced. It doesn’t matter how much faith he has, it WILL NOT and CANNOT save him.

But you only need a small amount of faith to be safe, because the object of your faith is able to save.

Likewise, non-christians & merely religious people may have more faith than Christians, but their faith is in the wrong object and therefore it cannot save them.

But if your faith is in Jesus Christ, then you can have absolute trust that He can and will save you.
Not because your faith is great, but because our Saviour is so great and is able to save you because He has paid the penalty for our sin.
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:12
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

The more we learn about our Lord, the greater our Faith will grow.

But wait:
If the size of your faith doesn’t effect your ability to be saved, why do we need to grow in faith?
The reason is, the faith you have will directly effect the way you live out your life.

Put yourself back at the top of the cliff, and your friend says to you, “You know, rock is not very strong. It’s so old and outdated and there is no proof it can actually hold you”.
If your knowledge of rock isn’t very good, your faith could be shaken.
Then as a result, as you abseil down the cliff, you’ll find yourself creeping slowly and gently saying to yourself “please don’t break, please don’t break”. Your shaken faith will directly impact the way you act.

But if you spent time learning everything about the rock and your attachment to it, your faith would be increased and you could fly down the cliff, bouncing, swinging, with joy in your heart and even help others who may be stuck, all because you have sound faith in a proven and secure anchor point.

Likewise, many Christians creep through life saying to themselves, “I hope I’ll make it, I hope I’ll make it” because of a lack of biblical faith. But if their faith was strong in the knowledge of their Saviour and His word, they could march to glory with joy, and even be outwardly focused enough to help others.

2 Peter 1:5-8 “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

May your faith be strengthened as you learn from God’s Word and grow nearer and nearer to Him, because, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

–  Written by Chris Sandford