RELATIONSHIP OF FAITH AND SIGHT
T. Pierce Brown
We find in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight (eidos — appearance).” This has led many persons to assume that somehow faith and sight are contrary one to the other, and perhaps had something to do with the idea in the song that says, “faith will be lost in heavenly sight.”
In the deepest sense, faith will not be lost in heavenly sight, nor in earthly sight. If we define faith as “a trusting reliance upon,” then we need to know whether the term “faith” has reference to “a trusting reliance on” the statement of another, or a “a trusting reliance on” the person himself.
Let us try to illustrate what we mean in more detail. It is true that when the Apostles saw the risen Lord, they did not need to have faith in the testimony of another that he was risen. But does that mean that when they SAW him, they no longer had faith in HIM? The very idea is preposterous! The simple fact is that faith in the truthfulness of a proposition and faith in a person are two different things. If a man should say, “I have a book in my hand,” and you can see it, you do not need to have faith in the statement. You KNOW it. But that does not mean you therefore have lost faith in the man who made the statement. Furthermore, a man may say, “I have a book in my hand” and you may have faith in the truthfulness of his statement for any number of reasons, but if you know him to be a liar, you may have no faith in him at all, even though you may at any given moment believe something he says.
Would anyone be so bold or thoughtless as to say that when the Apostles saw the risen Lord they lost faith in HIM? When Jesus said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger and see my hands: and reach hither thy hand and put it into my side, and be not faithless but believing” (John 20:7), do you think Thomas should have replied, “No, Lord, faith has been lost in sight”? He said (v. 29) “”Because thou has seen me, thou hast believed.” He did NOT say, “Because thou hast seen me, thy faith has disappeared in sight.”
The fact that we walk by faith and not by sight simply means that when God says anything, we trustingly rely on HIM, whether or not the thing appears that way. God calls things that are not as though they were (Romans4:17), so our faith is the basis of our actions, nor what appears to us. But this has nothing whatever to do with the strange and non-scriptural idea that “faith will terminate at the coming of Christ.” Rather, we shall no doubt have even greater faith in him than ever before. We will simply not have faith in the reality of the proposition that he is coming again. That will have become knowledge.
So one of the lessons to us should be that it is not true that the more we see the less we can believe. On the contrary, both sight and knowledge gained by any of the other senses, if used properly, will not destroy faith, but increase it! The trouble comes when one decides to substitute what he thinks he sees or knows for what God has said about the matter. That is when we especially need to walk by faith, and not by sight. But this does not make them either antithetical or mutually exclusive.