What Is Faith

By Dr. Mike Murphy


A young boy was invited to spend some time with Albert Einstein. Although very intelligent, the young boy was more than a little arrogant. After spending time with Dr. Einstein, they walked out onto his porch to continue their talk. As they sat on the porch, the young boy smiled, thinking of a way he could possibly trip up Dr. Einstein. As they began to sit, the young boy pointed to a tree, and asked, “How do we even know that tree is there?” Calmly Albert Einstein looked over at the young boy and replied, “Only by faith.”

What is faith? The dictionary defines faith as “strong belief or trust in someone or something, belief in the existence of God, strong religious feelings or beliefs, a system of religious beliefs”. Although belief and trust are a big part of our faith, to accept this definition would mean that if we believe there is a God or have feelings for God, then we have faith in God. This is one time Webster and the scholastic world simply got it wrong! Faith cannot be found through positive thinking. Faith cannot be defined by intuition or premonition. Faith is not wishing for the best, and hoping all will turn out okay. Although many would try to define faith in such terms, it can never be seen or identified in this way.

The Bible defines faith in an altogether different way. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When we read this verse, we must ask ourselves, what is the assurance and the conviction that defines our faith?

The word for assurance means “that has foundation and actual existence, a firm substance of real being.” The word comes from another Greek word that actually means “to stand under”. Assurance is certainty, the reality of trust we have in things around us. When we walk up the stairs in our home, we do so with certainty, without second thought. We have walked up those stairs so many times that we know they will support us, and get us to where we need to be. Assurance is based in trust, knowing we can rely on something with complete confidence.

Conviction means “that by which a thing is proved or tested”. This is why we refer to the term when someone has been found guilty of a crime. The conviction of our faith is the same. We have been shown the evidence, and have seen all the things that support that evidence. We have conducted our own personal trial, and been shown all the facts. We have intelligently looked at this evidence, and have made our ruling. Jesus Christ is who He claims to be! He is the Son of the living God, who came to this earth to offer each of us a true and lasting hope!

When we take a close look at these two words, we begin to see the power that Paul placed in this verse. And when we go back and look at the verse in its’ original language, we see even more power. The Greek literally translates, “Now faith is the reality of things being hoped for, the proof of things not seen.” Our faith is both reality and proof, it is based on both our mindful acknowledgement and our certainty. We cannot know and understand faith without both. Through our mindful acknowledgement, we have the proof our faith is based on. Through our certainty, we experience the reality of knowing our faith is true.

The best way this can be explained, is by doing so the way Jesus would have. Through a example or parable. When we see a boat, our mind quickly identifies the object and recognizes it as a boat, not as a car or a plane. Through our experiences, we have come to know the purpose of a boat. The boat is designed to keep up afloat on water, and to help us get to the other side. Our faith is likened to the trust that allows us to step into that boat, knowing what it is designed for and the purpose it is meant to serve. This is why Paul goes on to tell us that without faith, it is impossible for us to please God(Hebrews 11:6). For the Lord knows that without faith, we will never find ourselves in that boat!

To truly understand faith, we need to understand where our faith comes from. Faith is not something we can just learn. It is not something we can obtain on our own. And it is not something that we are born with. Faith is a gift. It is not a gift we deserve, or a gift we have earned. Along with His grace and mercy, it is a gift that leads to His glory, a gift to fulfil His plan and purpose for each of us. A gift that will never be any better than the One we place that faith in.

Faith is vital to the life of every Christian. We are saved through faith(Ephesians 2:8), we are justified by faith(Romans 5:1), our hearts are cleansed by faith(Acts 15:9), and through our faith we look forward to the return of Christ(2 Peter 3). It it because of our faith that we please God, that we show the Lord our trust and dependency on Him, and that we seek to rely on His mercy and His grace.

Our faith is rational(Hebrews 11:3), showing us that God is the Creator of all. Our faith is revolutionary(Hebrews 11:4-8), making the invisible visible, and the impossible possible. Our faith is inspiring(Hebrews 11:4-40), leading us to places we would have never gone, and accomplishing things we would have never imagined. And our faith is discerning(Hebrews 11:26), teaching us the rewards of Heaven over the riches of man.

Our faith is trusting, our faith is rational, and our faith calls us to action. As we closely see how the Lord defines faith, let us take a closer look at each of these.

Faith Is Trusting

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”, Proverbs 3:5.. A verse many of us have grown up knowing, being taught to us from our earliest years. Many will often try to separate the words trust and faith, but you actually cannot. Although they are two different words, you cannot define one of these words without the other. It is through trust that we can believe in all the promises God has given us. And it is through faith that we trust those promises will be fulfilled. Without trust, our faith would rely on hope. Trust gives us the assurance of those things, and what separates the truth of God’s Word from all the other religions of this would. We have seen the fulfilment of God’s Word, therefore we can trust His Word. No other religion can make that claim! They just hope the false words their ‘god’ has given them will come true.

Two hundred and forty-five times we see the word faith used in the King James Version of the New Testament. What may surprise you, it is only used twice in the Old Testament. But both times the word carries incredible meaning. In Habakkuk 2:4 we read, “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” The Hebrew word for faith means “firm, secure, trustworthiness”. It is actually derived from another word that means “craftsman”. A craftsman was seen as a one who was an expert in his field, whose actions could be trusted. Someone whose actions had purpose and meaning, and what they made you could be secure in. It is by no mistake that the words is used here! It is by faith that we can have security and trust in God’s Word and His work. This word shows us that there is far more to faith that just knowing God. It shows us that faith is trusting God, and believing that we should follow His will.

Trust is a call to our faith. Trust is why we should follow God with all our heart, committing every part of our life to the Lord with complete confidence. Showing us that our faith does not rest in the logic of men, but in the proven wisdom of God. Jesus said in Luke 4:4, “It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Trust shows us why our faith in Christ is all we will ever need!

Faith is Rational

Our faith is not a philosophical theory or even a psychological fact. Our faith is nothing short of a spiritual force! Our faith is living, created from a Living Word, that has produced a living proof! Although our faith is not solely based on evidence, it is supported by every ounce of evidence this world has ever seen.

Despite what many would try to tell us, our faith is not blind. The very heart of the Christian worldview is based on actual evidence, not on blind faith. It is only after one is presented with overwhelming evidence that he or she is invited to place their faith in the facts of the Gospel. Our faith is not about turning off our brains and only following our heart. It is also not driven by the emotions of the day. Our faith is about seeking Christ with every character and feature of our body, every cell that makes up our existence being used to follow God. Our mind shows us the reality of all we hear, and our eyes shows us each day that our faith is not blind.

Throughout the Scriptures we are shown that reason, understanding, and wisdom are traits that are rewarded. Proverbs 3:13 tells us, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.” This verse tells us we are blessed when we seek wisdom from, and understanding in God. We must remember, that God created us with the ability to reason and to think. And He gave us those abilities for a very specific purpose, so that we might seek and find the truth. God knows that if we truly seek that truth, we will find Him. Psalm 14:1 tells us, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’.” The word for fool used here does not refer to a lack of intelligence, but refers to a person without morals. This verse shows us that when we deny the existence of God, we put ourselves on a path in search of evil. Reason and understanding that does not focus on God, soon becomes the logic that leads us to the evil of this world. Faith is not only rational, faith is a sign of intelligence in God’s eyes!

Faith Is Action

An impala is an amazing creature. This antelope found in the Savannah of Africa, has athleticism and grace that few animals can match. In a single jump it can reach heights of over ten feet, and can leap distances of over thirty feet. But with all of its’ abilities, you can enclose an impala behind a three foot wall and it will never escape. An impala will never jump if it cannot first see where its’ feet will land. Fear, and this world, would have us be like the impala. Entrapped in fences without knowing what lies beyond. But our faith allows us to overcome the fear of these fences that Satan would place in front of us. Our faith draws us into action, causing us to step over those fences.

We must begin to understand, faith is not just believing in the evidence God would have us see, it is putting that wisdom into action. Faith is not just cheap talk, faith also requires our hard work. Faith takes us beyond talk, it puts us into action. Faith is more that just believing in God, faith leads us to behave by the Word of God.

Faith is an action. Look at the Bible as an example. Noah built an ark. Abraham departed his home when he received the call of God. Moses commanded Pharaoh to let the Israelis go. Joshua fought for the Lord. Samuel anointed David. Each of these were acts of faith. Faith requires action, without action there cannot be faith. In Hebrew there is not even a noun form of the word for faith, it can only be found in verb form. Each of the above patriarchs stand in the presence of the Lord today, because they chose(a verb) to follow the call of God. Faith is a doctrine that is expressed through our choice, through our action. Faith leads us from belief toward trust and obedience, and that trust and obedience requires us to act. We must never forget, faith is our trust, our reasoning, and our understanding in action. In order to follow God, we must first get up, and put all that God shows us into movement. Our faith is evident in everything we do. It is only when we put our faith into action, that the world around us can see Christ reflected in each of us!

Faith! A word far more powerful that most of us ever imagined. A word that Christ tells us with the smallest of amounts we could move mountains. Our faith brought us to the Cross, put us on our knees in front of that Cross, and calls us to show the world the beauty of that Cross. Faith is not just our holding on to God. It is knowing that God is holding on to us, and that He will never let us go! It is us knowing that before He even thought to let go, He would move mountains. That He would and will move this very earth because of our faith.

 

 

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