Monday, August 27, 2012

Where does faith come from?

“Faith is trusting what the eye can’t see. Eyes see the prowling lion. Faith sees Daniel’s angel. Eyes see storms. Faith sees Noah’s rainbow. Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Savior. Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees His blood.”
The above is Max Lucado’s paraphrase of Hebrews 11:11(NIV): “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
But where does faith originate?
1. Our Creator wrapped faith in our DNA
Dr. Andrew Newberg, neuroscientist and author of "Why We Believe What We Believe," says our brains seem to have a special place for faith. He has tracked how the human brain processes religion and spirituality. It's all part of new field called neurotheology.
Newberg says the frontal lobe, the area right behind our foreheads, helps us focus our attention in prayer and meditation. The pari-et-al lobe, located near the backs of our skulls, is the seat of our sensory information. He says it's involved in that feeling of becoming part of something greater than oneself. The limbic system, nestled deep in the center, regulates our emotions and is responsible for feelings of awe and joy.
Newberg says similar areas of the brain are affected during prayer and meditation. He suggests brain scans may provide proof that our brains are built to believe in God. He says there may be universal features of the human mind that actually make it easier for us to believe in a higher power.
I believe people search for God because of the “God-shaped void” within. If they haven’t heard the gospel or reject it, they worship the earth, an idol they know is nothing but a figure humans created, or devise their own religion—even making unbelief into doctrine.
2. God has given each person the ability to believe and his own lump of faith: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Romans 12:2-4).
Often people, who don’t think they believe, find themselves praying when they or a loved one is in danger. A cry for God’s help comes from us spontaneously sometimes in crisis.
3. Faith arises from the need to know our Heavenly Father. Since the Lord gave humankind a choice of whether to serve Him, God prevents us from “proving” He exists and leaves that and other vacancies for our faith to fill.
In my book, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, I tell how medical science and common sense show we’re more than a body, discovering our whole body keeps daying and regenerating cell by cell, parts being removed and sometimes another transplanted from someone else. Yet there is room for doubt when it comes to proving we have a soul that lives forever. We have to believe the evidence.
4. Faith comes through hearing the Word—the gospel.
The Apostle Paul wrote “Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17NIV).
Because faith is necessary to be redeemed from sin and to have our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, God “breathed” truth into those who wrote His love message to humankind. It is through that love letter—the Bible—we gain knowledge of Him and why He allows us (anybody) to choose to accept it and love and obey Him.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Timothy 3:16KJ).
5. Faith results from acting on what was heard. From Romans 10NIV: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
6. Faith comes through the will. We decide whether to believe God’s Word, a false religion, or atheism. Everything about who we are, why we are here and where we are going takes faith. Yet it takes a leap—a decision.
7. Faith is created by combining belief with common-sense actions. James calls it faith and works. (James 2:22).
8. Faith develops out of our hopes. We hope for something, but it takes faith to receive it.
9. Faith can come as a fruit (KJ) and Gift of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 1 Corinthians 12:9).
10. Faith comes from a combination of our will to believe, and the Holy Spirit’s revelation. The Word must be planted, watered, and then our lives bear fruit.
©Ada Brownell 2012