How to Have Faith in an Age of Proof Seeking

Editor’s Note: Today in our series Believing God in Unwanted Circumstances, we encourage you to first read or listen to Hebrews 11:6 and 31 and James 2:14-26. Then, after pausing in these rich verses from God’s Word, we offer you this post about Rahab and her life of faith as additional encouragement and challenge concerning the truths you’ve studied this week.

By Brianna Hines

This week, while driving in the car for a mother-daughter shopping trip, my daughter asked me how she could know for sure that she was saved by Jesus, that she had a relationship with God. It took me some time to answer the question because it has been a while since I truly thought about it myself. We began a conversation about faith: what it is and how to have it. It was providential timing that I had been meditating on this week’s Bible study verses on the subject!

The Bible tells us that “faith is having confidence in what we hope for and assurance about something we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). This is a simple definition, but a complex concept to live out. My daughter, like many of us, wanted to know how to have faith. How do we have confidence in what we hope for? How can we have assurance about something we do not see? How can I have confidence and assurance in my salvation?

Rahab, our biblical woman spotlighted this week, is listed among a long line of many other Bible heroes in Hebrews 11 because she demonstrated great faith. Rahab’s choice to have confidence and assurance in God was a bold, risky, life or death decision. Hebrews 11:31 says, “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” She heard about God and believed in Him (Joshua 2:9-11), even to the point of trading her safety inside the giant, seemingly impenetrable walls of Jericho for the uncertainty of a life among nomadic strangers. She could have been killed by the king of Jericho for harboring the spies, but Rahab believed that God’s side was the only side to be on. She risked her life inside the walls for belief in a God capable of knocking those walls down to rescue her. Rahab had faith. 

As I read down the list of all the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, I begin to see that faith always manifests itself in action. As it says in James 2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” It is not enough just to believe in God, for even the demons believe that! (James 2:19). We have to live like we believe it, just like Rahab lived like she believed God was going to conquer Jericho, even though she had no real proof. 

We are in an age of proof seeking. We are living in a world of research and science and hard facts. We want to see the numbers. We want double-blind, large-sample-size studies. We want proof. We scour all of the reviews. We google everything. We want every available fact, so we can make informed decisions. Faith drives us crazy! When was the last time you made an important decision on faith? No, not faith plus google, just faith. Acting on faith is hard. It is much easier to take a leap of faith if you have some solid proof to land on, but “proof” is a tricky thing.

I have heard a story told of a philosophy professor who introduced his final exam by placing a chair in front of the room and writing on the board, “For your final essay, prove that this chair exists.” As the class madly began scribbling sentences on their papers, one student calmly wrote down a few words, stood up, and turned in his paper. On it he had written, “I can’t.” That student got an A on the final. 

We can’t “prove” anything to anyone. A student could argue that sitting in the chair would prove its existence, but could we be dreaming? How can you prove that anything truly exists outside of your own mind? This could go down a rabbit hole very quickly, but the moral of the story is that at some point everything we believe is on faith.

Even science is on the basis of faith. Have you ever heard that the average person swallows eight spiders a year while they are sleeping? This scientific “fact” that many people adamantly defend was actually, and ironically, circulated by columnist Lisa Holst in 1993 as an example of the ridiculous things people will believe on the internet. It has now ballooned into one of the widest circulating pieces of scientific misinformation on the internet! How can we know that every study was done correctly, every fact fully researched? How can we tell with 100 percent certainty the difference between the real and fake news the media feeds us daily? We can’t! In this age of information, “proof” is just a security blanket. 

God wants something better for us. He wants to be our proof. He is the God who never changes (Malachi 3:6), is all-knowing (Psalm 139), and can be trusted (Matthew 10:29-30). In the face of uncertainty, we can look to Him for our wisdom and guidance. We can look to His Word for the truth. In answer to the question “How do we have faith?” we, like Rahab, can see what God has said and done, believe Him, and act like it. When we do that, we can have confidence in what we hope for (our salvation) and assurance about something we do not see (God’s faithfulness). We can live our lives by faith.

You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 

James 2:24

In that car ride with my daughter, we talked about the Holy Spirit living in us as proof of our faith in Jesus. We talked about the infallibility of the Bible, and all of the people who witnessed Jesus raised from the dead. All of these things are true, but at the end of the day, it still comes down to faith. I can never prove definitively that she is saved, or that the Holy Spirit dwells in her, or even that God is the real deal! Each one of us has just got to have a little faith. The Bible tells us we don’t need much, for faith as small as a mustard seed will do! (Matthew 17:14-20). And along with that faith, we need to act like we believe what God says. If we do that, we, too, can be heroes of the faith alongside Rahab.