One of the most common criticisms of Christianity is its reliance on faith. The implication normally is that faith is a blind hope that something is true and the opposite of the fact based, repeatable experimentation that science supposedly produces. Yet, faith actually consists of three components that Christians need to be familiar with and be able to explain in response to the blind faith view. The three include knowledge, assent and trust.
- Knowledge: This is the object, idea or person that is actually believed in based the study of information such as historical documentation, eye witnesses accounts and/or experimentation. The knowledge is the doctrinal component of the faith including that Jesus is the Son of God, was born of a virgin, rose from the dead etc. John 20:31 explains that “these [things] are written so that you may believe…”, that is they provide a fact base for believing. Jesus also provided evidence of His nature authority through His miracles.
- Assent: It is not adequate to just know something, so asset captures the conviction that the knowledge is true. You could know about Area 51 and the lore that surrounds it, but not agree to the idea that an alien spaceship is housed there
- Trust: Trust takes the knowledge assented to and moves to the point of relying or depending on it completely. It encapsulates the idea expressed in John 3:16 of believing in Jesus (John 3:16)
Let’s try to clarify the three components with a couple of examples. James 2:19 tells us that the demons believe that God is one. The demons are enemies of God, but they know and assent to the fact that He exists and is one being. They have the first two areas of faith, but are missing the third because they don’t rely on Him.
The second example is a frequent sermon illustration. In 1850s, Charles Blondin walked across Niagara Falls on a wire. He did this many times using various props to prove his skill. One day he asked the crowd if they believed he could carry someone on his back across the falls. Based on his previous success (knowledge) the crowd responded that they believed that he could (assent). However, when Blondin asked for a volunteer, no one was willing to step forward. While they thought he could do it, they did not trust him enough to put his or her life in Blondin’s hands.
Of the three components, trust is the key. We must allow Jesus to carry us across the chasm between us and God based on the merit of His life and sacrifice in His death, rather than depending on our own flawed works. We must have faith in Jesus for salvation. This faith isn’t blind or uninformed. We receive the information about Jesus, agree that it’s true and then depend on God completely to provide the forgiveness that we don’t deserve.
Based on What Faith Is and Is Not