What is Faith?

πίστις  =  pistis  =  Faith

Hebrews 11:1-3, “ Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Faith is not belief. The action of faith displays knowledge given and accepted as truth in something or someone, specifically on God, and needs first to be given by God. Faith is not blindly stumbling through the dark, hoping for someone to bring salvation, but turning on a flashlight and knowing what is true. Faith is enduring confidence in God, and then doing the will of God in the power of that confidence in the hopes of what is promised.

Faith is a gift from God. Hebrews 11 says faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what is unseen. The chapter describes a list of people who had faith in God and God’s actions on their behalf. That’s what faith is: trust in God and what he has done for you in Jesus. Through faith we trust in Christ. When we trust in Christ we experience grace, reconciliation with God, and forgiveness of sins. Romans 5:1–2 says,

“Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.”

Faith is not belief. Faith is a longer lasting type of belief. Faith is first given by God to Christians through the Bible, and Christians receive it as not only truth but as the word of God. Beliefs are personal observations and conclusions about reality. Beliefs are a reflection of culture. If beliefs are a result of a personal observations then truths would be different for everyone due to different perspectives. However believing is very important, according to Romans 10:9

“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

So belief is very important, perhaps even the first step towards faith. Faith is different from mere beliefs because it is accepted to the believer as truth, not from general observations, but by God through Prophets, Apostles, and most importantly His son. Faith is not an idea that is cherished, but a knowledge of a truth un-provable and non-visible.

The action of faith displays knowledge given and accepted as truth in something or someone, specifically on God. Granted, there are many different religions all across the globe, all of them claiming things very different, and all of them with devote followers who believe theirs to be true. Not getting into what others may teach, this should be the difference between them and Christians, that you do not simply discover biblical truth on your own but it is given as a gift by God. Jesus says in John 6:44

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him . . . ”

In a Christian’s walk the journey always starts with the realization that they are filled with sin and deprived of any good and in desperate need of salvation. This is the awakening. Then they are led toward faith by indomitable grace and trusting in the total atoning suffenency of Christ’s death. All who are led to such faith are chosen by God, without merit and independent of prior or future sins committed. Finally resting in the preservation of the sustaining faith in the all satisfaction of God.

Faith is not blindly stumbling through the dark, hoping for someone to bring salvation, but turning on a flashlight and knowing what is true. Skepticism is usually frowned upon in the Christian circle because it usually means something is being questioned about Christianity. However, skepticism can have a good connotation. Skeptics are people who are inclined to question every opinion offered in order to come to the truth. When Jesus says “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves,” in Matthew 7:15 it means watch carefully what you are exposing yourself to. Matthew Henry says in his commentary

“Nothing so much prevents men from entering the strait gate, and becoming true followers of Christ, as the carnal soothing, flattering doctrines of those who oppose the truth.”

So, faith was not meant to be blind. In death there is nothing but darkness and an absence of God entirely. In John 8:51

Jesus says,“…if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” Jesus also says that, “He is the way, the truth and the light…”

God did not leave his people in darkness, but with the ability to find truth even in the darkest of times, if one remembers to trust in the light.

Before Jesus comes into the Christian they are perfectly happy with in their sins. No desire to make right the wrong. Once Jesus enters it is like opening the window of a dark dusty room and getting a better look at the filth. Maybe seeing the empty bottles of booze and boxes of food that never satisfied, and the dust that shrouds everything along with all the motes floating in the air and being unhealthily inhaled. Faith opens the window into the soul and shines the light on the mess, and Jesus justifies it by saying, “this is now mine.” After justification is sanctification, or the process of being made holy. The entire process is essential to faith in Jesus.

Hebrews 11 says, Faith is assurance. Assurance of what? Things hoped for. But, what is it that is hoped for? Once awakened there is a increasingly strong desire to be rid of all disgrace and of all shame that lines the hearts of the Christian, like dust in an attic. The reason Romans chapter seven was written is to show that all of mankind’s flesh is sold to sin and condemned by the law. Then, in Romans eight the burden is lifted when Paul says,

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

The death of Jesus set sinners free from the old law so that we can have enduring, unshakeable faith in Him. Now Christians can rest, assured in the knowledge that they cannot be taken out of the hand of God. Because if God gave up his own son to reconcile an unclean people there is no way that he will loose what was bought at the highest price. Understanding this, faith could now be described as the endurance maintained by God, in the trusting of His will to glorify Himself in all things, and the final fulfillment of what is promised, the forgiveness that was purchased in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 43:6  I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7  everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.
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