But what about faith? If it is clear that God exists that leaves no room for faith, right? We need to take a moment to figure out what “faith” means. There are a few different meanings going around that can confuse this question. When “faith” is contrasted with knowledge it means believing when you don’t know if the proposition you are believing is true. The idea is that God doesn’t want us to know because then we won’t have to trust him but will instead rely on our own understanding. And so God hides Himself to make us live by faith in Him. God is real but we can’t know it with certainty.
Now, that entire format is premised on the truth that God is real. God is real and hides Himself. Or, God is real and wants us to trust Him. But why should we think that God is real? What about the other options? This is where clarity comes in. The eternal power and divine nature are clearly revealed so that unbelief is without excuse. It is true that there are many things in life that we cannot know. This is especially true about future events that we are tempted to worry about. We just don’t know the specific outcome and we worry and are anxious. This is where faith comes in. Faith is not about the existence of God. We know God is real and God is good. Faith is putting our trust in God precisely because we understand who He is.
Faith is understanding. The oft-quoted verse “lean not on your own understanding” is contrasting leaning on our ways instead of God’s ways. It does not mean do not understand the ways of God. We are called to meditate on, and understand God’s ways. When the disciples display confusion Jesus says “you of little faith, do you still not understand?” These are linked. If you understood you would have faith. Or perhaps the best example is the temptations of Jesus. These three temptations are tests of his faith/understanding. And he is able to pass the temptations because he understands and can reply with a sound argument. And this is how “faith” is defined in Hebrews 11. It is by faith we understand that God alone is eternal and created the world (Heb 11:3).
The hiddenness of God is found in the Psalms. For example in Psalm 10:1. “Why do you stand far away and hide yourself in times of trouble?” But the Psalmist does not doubt God is real. It is in the context of the existence of God and the goodness of God that the Psalmist is wrestling with the wicked who are in the world. But the truth he affirms in v16 is “The Lord is king forever and ever.” This kind of hiddenness pushes Psalmist to trust God and to meditate on the truths he knows about God. A test of faith as trust is a test of faith as understanding. It calls us to grow in our understanding.
We can and should know that only God has existed from eternity. God is the creator of the heavens and the earth (all else that exists besides God). Understanding this is faith. At our conference we will learn about the clarity of general revelation in order to grow in faith/understanding. We hope you can join us. And bring a friend or two!