We have been considering the biblical, Reformation principle that we are justified—declared righteous—based only on the perfect obedience of Christ, which is received through faith alone (sola fide). But faith plays a role not only in our justification, as we have seen, but also in the entire Christian life. So that we will have a fuller understanding of the virtue of faith and how it defines the believer, we will now spend some time examining various aspects of faith and the Christian life with the help of the teaching series Living by Faith by Dr. R.C. Sproul.
Regrettably, misunderstandings about faith abound in our culture. For many people, faith is merely a nebulous belief that everything is going to be OK. It lacks an object and is often reduced to a bumper-sticker slogan that commands us to “have faith!”
That is a secular understanding of faith, but there is also confusion about faith in the Christian community. Too many professing believers think faith is opposed to reason, that it is fundamentally irrational, that it is not based on any real evidence. Yet, the Lord never places faith and reason in opposition. God does not call us to a blind trust or leap into utter darkness. There is a content (notitia) we must know to have biblical faith, and there are evidences to which we can point that make faith in our Creator a reasonable enterprise.
We place our faith in God because He is trustworthy and because He has proven Himself in many ways. Blind faith is superstition; it is trust in something when there is no substantial reason to believe that something is trustworthy. But the God revealed in Scripture gives us reasons to believe He can be trusted both in nature and in the course of the history of redemption.
One of the most significant evidences from redemptive history for the trustworthiness of God is found in today’s passage. Abraham believed God and was justified (Gen. 15:1–6), but when the patriarch asked God for evidence that His promise would come true, God in His mercy gave it to Him. He passed between the pieces of the animals, pledging to forfeit His own life if He should fail to give Abraham and Sarah an heir (vv. 7–21). The surety of this evidence is seen in that God—because He is God—cannot die. And since the curse of death cannot fall upon Him, the only option left to Him is to keep His promise to Abraham. God must be true to His promises, and the only rational response to that truth is to believe Him.