of course are different ways of saying the same thing!
So, yes, faith is about being sure about unseen things!
So how can you be sure about what you can't see?
Well, let's use an analogy that one famous theologian has used.
Suppose you pass a piece of land and on it you see a concrete mixer,
piles of bricks and so on. You would rightly infer that they were constructing
a building. But what sort of building? Is it a house, a factory, a shop,
There are only two ways to find out.
First you could wait until it was finished and you would see what it
Alternatively you could ask the architect and he would tell you, and
you will believe him.
If the architect was a known rogue you might be quite unsure whether
you could believe him, but if he was a man of known integrity, who was
known by reputation to be scrupulously honest, you would be absolutely
convinced that what he tells you is true.
That's all very well for a building, but when it comes to "life,
the universe, and all that", you can't wait around to see the end
result, so that means we are only left with asking 'the architect'.
He (God) tells us truth (that is the 'revelation' side of the equation)
and we believe Him and act on what He has told us (that is the 'faith'
side of the equation).
Being a Christian = Receiving Revelation AND THEN Acting
The Bible in fact says that "faith comes from hearing" (Rom
10:17). In other words, faith is responding to what God says.
But how, to start with, can we trust One who we can't see, and many
of us feel we can't hear? (even assuming He is 'there'!)
3. Trusting the One who is There
There are a variety of approaches that have been suggested by various
people to answer this one.
Basically you can THINK it through to a place of faith, or come through
a CRISIS to a place of faith. The first two headings below are "think
1. Weigh the Evidence
If you really study the Bible, what's in it and how
it came to be written and passed down through the centuries, you come
to realise that here is a unique book that denies the assertion that
"it is all chance".
If you study the person of Jesus Christ, his presence
in history, his veracity, his works, his words, his life, his death
and his resurrection (see other pages on this site for these things),
you cannot help but be challenged and moved.
If you study Christian experience with an open mind,
and include in that Christian history in detail, again you are left
wondering about the amazing things that are observed: individual lives
being transformed, for what can only be described as 'good', and indeed
whole societies transformed for 'good', all because of belief in Jesus
If you study the history of Judaism in the Old Testament,
right back to its origins with Abraham, again you are challenged by
what you find: a people who, whenever they were strong in their belief
in God, were strong and prosperous, but who, whenever they strayed from
that belief, collapsed morally and socially.
When you study these things in detail, when you weigh the evidence that
is here, you cannot but help be challenged by certain questions:
- If "God" doesn't exist, how can we explain the beliefs and
the certainties of dozens of writers and millions of believers, that
have transformed history for good?
What is it in me that struggles against this mountain of evidence?
How can I say it's not true when life fits how the Bible describes humanity
and human experience so perfectly?
2. Take your Presuppositions to their Logical Conclusions
A useful approach is to take our beliefs and work through them, to their
For a whole variety of reasons, we all start off our thinking processes
with different presuppositions - starter ideas that we have, that we
believe, ideas about God, life, the universe, evil, me!
Let's start out with the human condition and use it to check our presuppositions
and the logical consequences that MUST follow!
For our example, let's pretend that here we have under our microscope
a thoroughly evil person (let's not argue 'evil' for the moment, just
accept what most people would accept, our specimen is thoroughly evil).
Now let's consider the possibilities. In each case observe the presupposition
(starting point) and then the outcomes which are logical results:
Possibility A - there is no God - so this being is
a meaningless result of evolution. If there is no Ultimate Being then
there is nothing to inhibit how we deal with this "creature".
We might as well destroy him for the good of the rest of mankind.
If there is no God, then there can be NO purpose to existence, we can
ONLY be chemicals that came into this form by time plus chance plus
nothing! Concepts such as 'love' and 'beauty' and 'meaning' and 'purpose'
can only be chemical reactions!
If there is no God, then who is to make the rules and on what basis?
Don't even think about saying, "Who needs rules?" because
even the most simple group of school children come up with the answer,
"We need rules to protect the weak and bring order to society,
because people aren't nice!"
But if you take God out of the equation, who is to make the rules?
A dictator? (They haven't done well in history!).
A committee of the most intelligent? (Intelligence doesn't always go
with care, compassion and common sense!)
Democracy? (Where power groups actually influence, and who says they
No, take God out and you're left feeling slightly uneasy.
Possibility B - There is a God (an Ultimate Being)
If there is this 'Ultimate Being' then that presupposition creates a
range of possibilities.
Within each of the options, it must be taken as read that this Ultimate
Being had some say in the forming of what we call 'Creation' and, in
particular, human beings.
HOW He did it is irrelevant - whether short term divine acts or long
term planned evolution - it doesn't affect the possibilities.
(If you have a mind block at this point because of the existence of
'evil' in the world, then go to the reosurce pages entitled "The
Problem of Evil".)
Possibility B1 - God made this person evil, and they
had no choice.
Conclusions? This "God" is just as evil to have inflicted
such a thing on this person and on others who are harmed by him.
Possibility B2 - God designed human beings, left them
to it and laughingly watched them run contrary to makers design and
so fall apart at the seams.
Conclusions? Still a pretty awful "God".
Possibility B3 - God designed human beings, told them
the best way for them to live in accordance with His design, warned
them how they would fall apart if they lived contrariwise, but left
them to it, and just laughed when we did.
Conclusions? Still not a very kind God, not one worth knowing.
Possibility B4 - God designed human beings, told them the best
way for them to live in accordance with His design, warned them how
they would fall apart if they lived contrariwise. However, unlike B3,
He actually stepped in to show us a way out when we originally ignored
His instructions and got messed up, He stepped in and did everything
possible without violating the free will He gave us, to help us. (This
is the Biblical solution!)
In each of these situations, ask yourself, "Which one equates with
how the world actually is?" and "Which one do I actually feel
most comfortable with as an outcome?"
In we're really honest, none of are comfortable with the outcomes of
Everything in us screams against us being a pointless, meaningless 'object'.
Many of us actually spend much of our lives trying to achieve a sense
of self worth and fulfilment, to put some sense of 'meaning' into our
We may prefer to avoid the thought of God's actual existence, because
of the consequences of that belief (that I'll have to do something about
that!), but the alternative is something many of us try not to think
about because, for some reason we've been taught to believe B1 to B3
Alternatively, perhaps we simply don't like the thought that someone
knows better about my life than me!
3. Believing through a Crisis.
What actually happens, for many people, is that they don't think through
the issues above but instead come to a crisis in life, hear about Jesus
Christ, grab for the straw as a drowning man, and then find 'life'.
They then start looking, reading and investigating, but now simply to
confirm what has happened to them.
Whatever the process....
Whichever way it happens, the end result is the same: there is a growing
conviction that THIS is true.
If a scientist tells you something is true, we're learning to check
whether it is just a theory or whether it is a cast iron fact.
The only trouble is that modern scientists are increasingly less certain
about their findings. They might say, "If we do it this way, we're
fairly certain it will happen like that next time, but we can't guarantee
At the end of the day, we too can say, "If you come to this place
where you surrender to God and believe in all the Bible says Jesus Christ
has done for you, you will find your life being transformed.
Then you will find things happening that can only be explained by the
presence and activity of God - but I can't guarantee it - you've got
to walk it yourself and prove it for yourself."
THAT is faith.
How do you build faith?
We recognise that this page simply has a lot of challenges on it. Where
does that leave YOU?
Maybe you've read the page and it's left you untouched. Fair enough,
come back in six months.
But perhaps you're acknowledging that you need to progress this further.
How do you build faith?
Do something simple - pray and ask God to give you faith, to help it
grow in you, this sure and certain conviction. That could be a first
step. Just do it and see what happens.
You're actually responding to what you've read on this page, and it
could be that God was speaking to you as you read it.
Try something else simple - start reading one of the Gospels in the
Bible, in a modern version, and see what it says to you.
If you need it, you'll find help on the "Trustworthiness of the
Bible" resources pages in one of the sample Bible studies.