What is faith?

There are many scriptures which speak on the topic of faith.  But what is faith? How do we obtain and keep the faith as mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

Is faith really important? Is it necessary to be a Christian? What about Hebrews 11:6 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.  This is a rather strong statement, if you don't have faith you can not please God.

How much faith do we need in order to be saved? According to Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.  We are saved by grace, but faith is the vehicle which we use.  If we earned or gained faith within our own selves then it would not be a gift but a reward of our works, something you earned.

Let's look at the book of  Joshua, where his men went to do battle with the small city of Ai. Reading in Joshua 7:4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.  Did Joshua suffer defeat at Ai because he had little faith, or was it because there was sin in the camp. If Joshua had significantly more faith would God have given him a victory instead?

Could Joshua or anyone else impose their will on God because they have an abundance of faith?  Can we make God do our will simply by believing that he will do what ever we ask him to do.

Let's examine the scriptures:

First off there are three different words which are used to convey the same thing.  These words are faith, trust and believe.  Each of these words are interchangeable with one another when addressing the topic of faith.  If you have faith in someone then you trust and believe in them as well. If you trust someone then you have faith and believe in them, and so on.

The opposite is also true, if you don't believe in someone then you do not trust or have faith in them either.

Faith in God alone:

We must have faith in God alone and not within ourselves. We must put our full trust in God only. God is the only one in whom we should place 100% of our trust.  God holds the key to salvation and we need to lay our full faith and trust in his ways and believe that what he has planned for our life, is in the best interest for us, and that is to obtain eternal life. 

To know God is to trust in or to have faith in Him, and to have a relationship in Him.

Lets look more closely at Hebrews chapter 11:1 which speaks on the topic of faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Substance:

Faith is the foundation or substance on which a true Christian stands. We are told in other versus that we need to stand on the rock or foundation of God. 

We are told in Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

Hope:

Faith is the foundation on which all our hopes for the future are built. Here is a very small group of verses telling us where our hope needs to be:

Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Psalms 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Psalms 33:22 Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Psalms 38:15 For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

Psalms 39:7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Psalms 71:5 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.

Psalms 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

Evidence of things not seen:

We cannot see God in all of His glory. We cannot see Heaven and it's golden streets. Nor can we see angels under normal circumstances. But we know that they exist.

We have evidence of the existence of the non-physical universe. For instance, we can see that there was a world wide flood by the record that it left behind. We know this happened but we did not see or witness this event.  God says that he will tell us things to come so that He might prove Himself to us in a way that we can understand.

Reading in 2Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. Again the things that we can see are temporal or physical. But the things that we have our hope in are eternal or non-physical.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: The evidence of a Creator is all around us, we need to only open our eyes.

Faith is not some positive thinking attitude, you can not have a positive attitude and make God perform something against his will.

If we believe that we are healed because we have faith, we are then in affect creating our own healing by the power of our own mind in our own way. This is not the case.

If we only would have enough faith to believe we could get a new car or home, we could bend the will of God to give us anything that we wished for. But we can not create reality with our minds. God does not bend to our will or the faith of our minds, optimism is not faith.

If it is faith that does it, than it's not God that does it and God is not in control. Which means that it is not based on his will but our will. It is not a matter of Gods will but we can make Him do what we want Him to do. Is it all about me getting more faith? If it is, then it puts the burden on us not on God. Mans faith does not cause God to act on our behalf.

Faith opens our hearts to God, we obey Him, we are willing to let Him direct our lives and to trust Him. Faith is an absolute essential. When you know God, you trust Him, you have faith in him, you allow Him to guide your life. Our faith needs to be in Jesus Christ not ourselves. 

Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.


1John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. Here we are told that we need to believe on the Son of God which is Jesus Christ. We are not told to believe or trust in our faith. We are not to place our trust in our own strength or might but to place our trust in Him alone. Once this is done we need to let God work and to determine the right course of action as He sees fit for our lives.    
 

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (15) And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. Again, this makes it very clear that we are to have confidence in Him, not our faith, but faith that God will do His will for our live.


1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. (22) And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. In order to have our prayers answered we must believe, according to his will not ours and live a life according to his commandments. Jesus tell us that we need to believe in Him. John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
 

Sometimes God has other plans for us. His ways are not our ways.  Let's look at some examples from scripture:

Lets start with Paul, 2Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. (24) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. (25) Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; (26) In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; (27) In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (28) Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

So why are these verses important? Some people think that as soon as something crosses a Christians' path that that person does not have enough faith.  If only they had more faith, then bad things would not be happening to them. If this is true, then Paul did not have much faith as well.

If Paul would have had more faith he could have prayed to God, and because of his great faith, God would have been forced to remove these trials from his life.

Here again we have Paul going before God with a issue he had in the flesh. Starting in 2Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Again we must ask ourselves, did Paul not have enough faith to cure him of his thorn in the flesh?

1Kings 1:1 Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. Old and stricken in years? Many people think that a Christian should not have any side effects of old age.  Also, that they should not get sick or have any physical illness as all.  If a person does get sick then according to some people you don't have enough faith in God.  We can see clearly that this is not the case.  King David was a man after Gods own heart.  If any man had faith in God it was King David. 

The key is that no matter what comes our way, we are to trust in God alone.  He knows what is best for us.  God uses trials in our life to strengthen us and to make us depend on Him.

God told Paul that even though He would not remove his thorn in his flesh that My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Maybe it is not God will to heal us, or to remove any circumstance that are currently testing us.  We need to believe that God is smarter and wiser then us and to leave all things in His hands.  It might not be Gods will, way or time to deliver us from the current trials that we might me facing.  But there is hope reading in 1Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
 

The ultimate goal in this life is to prepare us for eternity.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that God is in control. No matter how much we may think that God is going to give us our own way because we have a positive mental attitude, this is a mistake that many Christian fall into.

We can gain faith and trust by reading the scriptures and by praying to God for understanding. He will prove to be faithful now and in the future.


Luke 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,


 

** Note all references are taken from the King James Version.