One of the most difficult aspects of living the Christian life, and embracing the Christian perspective on life after death, is the fact that it is faith based. As modern people, our lives and beliefs are generally ruled by what we see and observe. The modern mind has drawn the conclusion that for something to be true, it must be empirical, observable, and provable. To believe in life after death does not conform to this modern requirement, and for this reason, religious faith is an antiquated idea that should be eliminated from our lives.
However, these critics do not understand the nature of faith, for they perceive that Christians live by a faith that is blind and cannot be substantiated. They fail to see that the God of the Bible does intend for us to live by faith, however it is faith that is rational and well-founded. It is a faith that has a foundation.
How do we distinguish between blind faith and the faith that God requires of us? Let us assume that we meet in my office and I inform you that I have an object in my pocket and that I would like you to tell me what it is. All you can do is guess. There is no basis for you to know, for there are a multitude of items that could be in my pocket. All you can offer is speculation. However, speculation is not faith, though this is the way many people view it.
If we take this illustration a step further, assume that I tell you that I have a twenty dollar bill in my pocket. Since I appear to be trustworthy and have no reason to be deceptive, you believe it. And though I am telling you the truth and you believe it, you still have not seen the twenty dollar bill. This is faith. Faith is described in the book of Hebrews as “the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith therefore is our responding to divine revelation. It is extending confidence in what God has said and promised to His people. It is believing and acting upon what God has said, and not merely relying on what we can see.
For instance, Jesus recognized how we as humans are greatly frightened by the prospect of death. He therefore comforts Christians with these words:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
He tells us that we should not let our hearts be troubled as we confront death and its aftermath. He is saying that we should not be fearful because He has prepared a place for us in His Father’s home. As modern people, why should we believe and put our confidence in this? He tells us why when He says, “If it were not so, I would have told you” (v. 2). In other words, He is revealing to us, that our peace should rest upon what He, the son of God, has told us.
Christianity has never suggested that people take a leap in the dark, but instead, to step out into the light. The Christian gospel is not a message that revels in ignorance. It is rooted in God’s revelation to man in the person of Jesus Christ.
We are therefore led back to what I consider the most central issue of life. Is Jesus reliable and trustworthy? Is He the Son of God? Most significantly can we trust Him with our eternal well-being? And if we do not put our faith in Jesus, who will we look to for eternal life?