Faith—the incontestable engine of the Christian doctrine. Faith is what drives Christians to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. So what is this faith? What is faith about? This article is all about faith.
What is faith
For starters, what is faith? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: a strong belief or trust in someone or something. Every human being exercises faith. For example, when we are ready to travel to a destination, we approach our cars with the belief that the motor will start and they are going to take us to our destination. There’s no evidence of this, we just believe it to be so. Most of the time it is but sometimes we’re disappointed. But for the most part we believe this is going to happen before it happens—that’s faith. When we go to a restaurant, we order food by faith with the assured belief that the food will arrive, that it will taste good, and that it won’t poison us. We have no evidence of this; we believe that it’s going to happen before it happens—that’s faith. I could go on and on, but the point is, in our everyday lives we operate on faith. It is “trust in someone or something.”
So what Christian faith about? Well. Let’s look at what Christian faith is.
What is Christian Faith
The Christian definition of faith tells us what the Christian faith is about. According to the Nelson’s Bible dictionary, faith is: A belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to His will for one’s life. Faith is the instrument by which the gift of salvation is received. Eph. 2:8-9 reads:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Faith is therefore distinct from the basis of salvation, which is grace, and from the consequence of salvation, which is good works.
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
The apostle Paul declared that salvation is through faith, not through keeping the works of the law.
The basis of salvation is grace from God. Christians accept this grace by faith, putting their trust in the atoning sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. By confessing and repenting of their sins, the Christians accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This is the beginning of a Christian’s walk of faith. However, make no mistake, faith is part of the Christian life from beginning to end.
Scripture defines faith this way in Heb 11:1:
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
This chapter in Hebrews is known as the chapter/hall of faith and it begins
with a description of faith. Faith is the “substance” meaning the foundation, assurance, and guarantee of things hoped for. Christians base their hopes on the foundation of faith. Faith is a verb, a word of action and is being described as an act, an act of the mind and heart.
Biblical hope is confident expectancy. Genuine hope is not wishful thinking, but an unyielding assurance about things that are unseen and still in the future. In the Bible, the word hope stands for both the act of hoping (Rom 4:18; 1 Cor 9:10) and the thing hoped for (Col 1:5; 1 Peter 1:3). Hope does not arise from the individual’s desires or wishes but from God, who is Himself the Christian’s hope. Rom 8:24-25 reads:
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
When Christians put their faith in Christ as Savior, they receive this hope: that they will be redeemed. However, the full redemption hasn’t occurred; it will happen when Christ returns. That is why it is still a hope—an expectation. We expect what we hope for to come.
While we can be confident of our salvation, we still look ahead with hope and trust toward that complete redemption that lies beyond this earthly life.
Back to Heb. 11:1, It goes on to say “the evidence of things not seen.” Scripture seems to be saying that faith is the actual possession of reality. It is believing that God exists and what He promises; He will deliver—even though we can’t see the fulfillment it at the moment.
A life of faith
So how important is faith in the life of a Christian?
According to the Scriptures, faith is of the upmost importance. In Heb 11:6 it reads:
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
God desires to have a relationship with His people. This pleases Him. But it is impossible to have a relationship with Him without faith in Him; faith that He exists in the first place.
God assures us that all who “earnestly seek him” will be rewarded. To earnestly seek means to act in faith on the knowledge of God. Then, subsequently determine to devote oneself to him.
Another passage of Scripture that addresses living by faith is Hebrews 10:38-39:
38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
Faith preserves the soul; it is the only thing that can save the soul. The only way a person will ever be accepted by God and escape the judgment of God is to…
• believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
• believe that He is the perfect sacrifice for sins—that Jesus Christ took our sins upon Himself and bore the guilt and punishment of them for us—that Jesus Christ has thereby freed us from sin and made us acceptable to God.
The person who believes this is “just” before God; he is counted righteous before God. The just person—all Christians—shall live by faith and by faith alone.
Drawing back from Christ displeases God. God is never pleased with a person…
• who professes Christ and draws back into sin.
• who has known the truth and draws back into sin.
• who plays the hypocrite.
• who has a form of religion but draws back from the sacrificial blood of His Son.
God has no pleasure in this person, no pleasure whatsoever. This means that He will judge the person who draws back.
Drawing back is not the way of the Christian—not the dedicated Christian. As the Scripture reads: “We are not of those who draw back unto perdition.”
Some are; some professed faith in Christ and have now drawn back. But others are not of that number they “…believe to the saving of the soul.”
The point: Christian believers are to walk by faith, not by feelings and emotions. The tendency of people, even of Christians, is to live by their feelings and emotions. They act according to their feelings. They experience some emotion, so they behave according to that emotion. If they feel bad, they act irresponsibly: grumbling, complaining, and reacting. If they feel good, they act happy. Their behavior is determined by how they feel and react to emotional experiences. This is simply—fleshly.
Living by one’s feelings is contrary to God’s will. “The just shall live by faith”—this is God’s will. The Christian is to let faith control him. He is to let faith control his life and the particular problems that confront him every so often.
How does a Christian live by faith? What does it mean to live by faith? It means to do four things—consistently.
1. The Christian is to commit his life and his problems to God—all day long—throughout all his waking hours. He is to take the experiences and the problems of his day and commit them to God once-for-all. He is to believe that God hears his commitment and gives the strength to walk triumphantly throughout the day. He is to know that God does not like a whining, whimpering child begging and begging for strength when all he is doing is wallowing around in self-pity. This holds true no matter what is going on in and around the Christian’s life, as the scripture reads in 2 Cor. 5:7: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) Walk in the Scriptures signifies living…we live by faith, not by what we see; not by our circumstances in our lives or what’s on the news.
2. The Christian is to deny self. The feelings, emotions, and selfishness of his flesh are to be rejected, even ignored if necessary.
3. The Christian is to act as though he has made a commitment to God. He has made a commitment, so he is to act like it. His feelings are immaterial. He is to act responsibly. He is to go ahead and do what he should be doing. He is to behave as he should.
4. Then while the Christian is doing what he ought to be doing, he is to be asking God for His grace and strength. He is to be acknowledging God in all His ways throughout the whole day. [Prov. 3:5] He is to walk in prayer all day long, asking forgiveness as he comes short and slips and falls, and praising and thanking God for His eternal mercy and grace.
God does not direct the Christian’s path and then he feels good and goes about doing right. It is while the Christian is going about his affairs in a responsible way that God directs his paths. This is the life of the new and living faith wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ for those who believe and follow Him.
This is what faith is about!
The Christian walk of faith is a not easy one; especially when life isn’t so rosy. It is a lot more serious than many professing Christians acknowledge. But being empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can maintain our faith in spite of what’s happening (what we see) around us.
Time is marching on and we need to get ourselves in line with the will of God and take heed to what the Scripture says in Rev 2:26, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” This takes faith!
Our faith can start out small but it is to grow and it what helps us to over come until the end. Jesus said in Matt 17:20 in response to His disciples:
…”I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” NIV
A mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, yet it can move mountains and and it grows into a large tree (Matt. 13:31).
When Jesus seems distant or our problems threaten to overcome us, let us keep walking by faith. Trusting during a trial means waiting to see what good Jesus can bring out of what may seem like complete turmoil. We must remember that Christ uses trials to strengthen us for even greater service.
Other Scriptures that address living by faith are: Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11.
Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.