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“BY FAITH WE UNDERSTAND”
by Philip Owen

            Because the human brain is the faculty associated with knowledge and understanding, we have sometimes been confounded by the knowledge and understanding evidenced by some “babe or suckling” whose development or experience would suggest that he would be incapable of such things.  We may know from association that the person demonstrating such insight is not otherwise a genius or spectacularly endowed with intellectual capacity.  We have recognized the same phenomenon in adults who are not noteworthy for their intellects.  In many cases, our surprise results from our failure to take into account what the Scripture reveals concerning the role that faith plays in understanding.

            “By faith we understand.”  Let the clause from the author of Hebrews (11:3) stand on its own for a moment.  That statement provides a portal into the workings of the human intellect.  It makes clear that thought is a process that requires more than the electrical and chemical processes defined by biology and neurology.  Put another way, rational thought ultimately ceases to exist in a world without faith.  As demonstrably brilliant as physicists like Albert Einstein was and Stephen Hawking is, they have shown themselves incapable of rational thought at either the simplest or profoundest of levels.  Each professed atheism and embraced evolution, ideas so contrary both to reason and to all observable experience, as well as to the scientific principle that every effect must have a sufficient cause, that they reflect the height of absurdity. 

            Christians cannot fathom how someone could become convinced that an unborn baby is just a blob of protoplasm to be saved or destroyed according to the convenience or whim of its mother.  But faithless hearts produce twisted thinking.  Similarly, it is easy to dismiss the recent emphasis on gender identity as a political ploy concocted by cynical minds to advance a liberal agenda.  Doubtless, a certain percentage of those pushing this concept are the fruit of hypocritical pretense.  Furthermore, some of it is surely the result of demonic influences.  But we should never dismiss the fact that without faith and without God, objective reality ceases to exist so that to some sin-darkened minds the gender someone perceives himself to be trumps the biological reality of gender that is built into each and every one of his or her two-trillion-plus cells.  This is simply the latest and—to date—most outrageous example of what happens to a mind that operates in a person with a faithless heart. Once we laughed at those in previous centuries who believed the earth was flat.  But after all, to someone without the Word of God or without a scientific understanding, it appears to be flat and our sense of “upness” and “downness” would seem to confirm it.  Yet, with the biological evidence staring them in the face, some deny their own gender.  To a greater or lesser degree, no lost person can think straight.

            It is not to science and brainwaves that we owe the knowledge of the truth; were that the case, the examples we have just cited would not exist.  Rather, understanding, right thinking, comes as a gift from God:  faith.  “By faith [i.e., in what God has revealed] we understand that the worlds were framed prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

            So, if a proper apprehension of natural things requires faith, how much more are we indebted to faith for the understanding of spiritual things?  For as Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:  “but just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’  For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (I Cor. 2:9, 10).   His ways are “unsearchable” and “past finding out.”  Yet believers may know and understand God, may fellowship with Him, and may rejoice in realistic anticipation of the eternal blessings He has prepared for those who love Him.   

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