Do you delight in the rich experiences of the majestic Rockies, the mist of the Smoky Mountains, the awe of the Grand Canyon or the colorful panorama of the Great Barrier Reef? What a joy it is to be created with the ability to be enthralled with our physical world! God intends that our physical nature draw us closer to Him (Rom. 1:20ff). We often trust to a great extent what we see, taste, touch, smell or hear. We are wired that way. We often put great faith in what we experience through our empirical senses.
The Bible illustrates how people sense and come to know truth as they live in the natural world. They believe based on firsthand experience. When the disciples were able to see Jesus’s hands and side after the resurrection, they could believe (John 20:18-20). When Thomas touched the risen Jesus, he believed (John 20:26-27). When the Egyptian and Israelites smelled the stinking Nile, they could believe (Ex. 7:18ff). When the Romans heard the word of God they were able to believe (Rom. 10:17). The Psalmist exclaimed “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:6). Sense experience is one way people believe, but not the only way. The Bible says “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:6-7). How do people walk by faith and not by sight?
All People Walk by Faith When They Trust History
While “seeing is believing,” we should not reason that “only seeing is believing.” We often trust in events and experiences we have not observed and validated first hand. Consider the existence of George Washington. No one living today has seen him living face to face in the flesh. Yet we believe and pay with currency that validates his reality. We trust that he existed in the flesh, lived in our nation and was our first president. None of this was actually experienced first-hand by eye witnesses living today, yet we believe. All people walk by faith when they conclude that George Washington existed based on their trust in the factual information that has come down to them historically. Of course, one may refuse to believe in George Washington even in the face of a mountain of definitive convincing evidence. In Jesus’s day, some who saw what he did face to face refused to believe (John 12:37).
All People Walk by Faith When They Trust in the Future
Every time a person acts on what they anticipate they walk by faith and not by sight. When a person pulls up to a traffic light, finds that it is red and they stop, they act on what they anticipate. They trust that people will follow common conventions set out by civil law. They trust that all people who see green will trust that it is acceptable to proceed, that all seeing yellow will use caution and that all seeing red will stop. They have not yet experienced the event, but in anticipation they have faith and believe in events yet to transpire. Whether one believes in the God of the Bible or not, as one approaches traffic lights he or she walks by faith and not by sight.
All People Walk by Faith When They Trust the God of the Invisible
Concerning walking by faith, Paul contrasts the visible realm with the invisible realm. “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:6-7). In this visible world we have a fleshly earthly tent, a body that groans, and a body that is mortal and away from the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1-10). To contrast, man also at the same time has a “building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1). This spiritual body: groans to be further closed, swallowed up by life, is guaranteed by the Spirit, and gives us hope for great courage (2 Cor. 5:1-6). We know and understand these truths as we “walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
Having faith and confidence in the unseen is not so unreasonable. Religious believer and unbeliever alike constantly have faith and confidence in the unseen either historically or futuristically. To walk by faith does not deny the importance of the visible. Rather, when one follows the Bible as they place their confidence and trust in the true God of heaven–the Lord who rules both the visible and invisible—they walk by faith, and not by sight. What is seen is temporary and vanishes away. But, what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). Will you be convinced of what you do not see (Heb. 11:1, NET)? We are constantly convicted concerning history and the future. Is it time to let God convince you of so much that you do not see? Will you walk by faith and not by sight? Will you let God take you from the visible to the invisible? With God this astounding expedition is possible!