Mark Twain said, “Faith is believing what one knows is not true.” He was wrong—at least as it pertains to Christian faith. Faith is not believing in something we know is not true. That definition ignores and denies the experience of Christ’s apostles, whose faith was rooted in their eyewitness accounts of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:1-4
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Last winter my wife and I took our boys to visit their grandparents in Arizona. Having just endured five months of Minnesota winter, the boys were excited about the fact that grandpa and grandma had a swimming pool in their housing development—and they desired to get in the water right away.
At the time, our youngest son, Gavin, was a few months away from his fourth birthday. He stood about 35” tall—just under three feet, which was the water depth at the shallow end of the pool. It did not take long for him to realize the water was over his head. After swallowing an uncomfortable amount of it, he also had to admit that he didn’t know how to swim.
A few days later, we were back at the pool. In spite of his previous experience, when Gavin saw me standing in the deep end… he ran to the edge and jumped in!
Why? Why would he do that?
He knew the water was over his head. He knew he couldn’t swim. So, why jump in?
The answer is simple: he knew the one in the pool. He had faith, and not some unsupported feeling that everything would work out. He had three years of life experience, evidence, telling him that his father would catch him. His father would not let him drown.
The disciples were not asked to believe in something that was not supported by fact… and neither are we.
The New Testament is a series of letters and stories put together by those who were eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Together, along with the Old Testament, these documents are the most scrutinized documents in the history of the world… and yet they have proven themselves trustworthy time and time again.
Faith is not believing that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. That is a fact. Faith is believing that the benefits of his resurrection have been transferred to you. That the victory over Satan, sin, and death belong to you. Faith is receiving that truth, and acknowledging that you can add nothing to it. Romans 3:28 states, “We maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
It is faith alone, in the work of Jesus Christ, that justifies us before God… and that brings us into fellowship with God.
The water is deep. It is over your head. But fear not. You know the One in the pool. He will catch you with hands that have been pierced for your transgressions.
Believe in him. He will not let you drown.
Rev. Troy Tysdal is Director of Communications and Prayer for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and serves as editor in chief of Faith & Fellowship magazine.