What Is Faith?

Faith versus doubt, religion or confidence concept

Faith is a precious commodity. Christians today often banter faith around like a ping pong ball. People expect faith to solve every situation and to bring all desires to fruition. Sadly, many are disappointed in its power.

As a pastor, I had trouble with faith. I thought I knew what it was but had a difficult really defining it. It was one of what I call “fuzzy” things in Christianity. It is so commonplace people assume they understand it.

So what is faith?

Faith Is A Difficult Term

Paul said, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV) Put another way “Trusting is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see. (Heb 11:1 CJB)

Where does faith or trusting come from? How do we become confident? What is okay to hope for? Can we hope for anything we choose and expect faith to make it a reality? How do we become convinced about things we do not see?

I believe this is one of the most difficult and misunderstood words in God’s Word. It is also the most frustrating for many Christians. This single word has driven a huge number of people out the church; people who came in trying to generate enough faith to cure the problem that sent them there in the first place.

Faith Is Not Currency

Faith is not a cure all. It is not magic. I have heard people say faith is the currency of the spiritual world. With it we buy and sell, trade, exchange, and manipulate the grace of God. One soon discovers this is a myth. Faith is not currency.

With faith we can cure someone else’s or our own disease or misfortune. It seems God will heal if we just have faith. God will come through if we stay steadfast in our faith.

But this brings us again to what is faith. Stay steadfast in what? If, as Paul says we are convinced about things we do not see, how do we know what to put our faith in? Can we determine what this thing is we cannot see? Do we define what the faith will do? Are we not then telling God what to do?

It is easy to fall into the currency trap. I will buy my loved one’s cure of disease with faith.

How Do You Maintain Faith in the Face of Disaster?

In this day of Covid-19 we might find a more accurate version of faith and illness. We can take precautions, stay away from other people, do the CDC recommendations of social distance, masks, and hand washing. But will this assure us that we will not contract the virus?

My wife just came back from a pedicure. She explained to me about the technician’s virus precautions and she said, “I just had to take it on faith that the room was safe.” She did not say, “I know the room was safe because I had faith that it was.” She understood the room may be safe and it may not be safe. That was beside the point. Her faith in God’s wisdom allowed her to take the seat and enjoy her pedicure. She could not see the germs or virus in the room. She trusted, not in her decision to go ahead or her conviction that it was clean, but she trusted the workings of God to do his will.

Now the vaccine is out. Can we have faith that is will protect us? No. We can have faith that God can use it if he chooses to do so.

The Secret to Faith

In the words of Paul the Apostle, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Heb: 11-3 KJV) Again in another translation, “By trusting, we understand that the universe was created through a spoken word of God, so that what is seen did not come into being out of existing phenomena.” (Emphasis mine, Heb: 11-3 CJB)

Something we cannot see created everything we can see. And that same unseen factor continues to hold everything together. That unseen thing is God. Without God nothing exists. John said, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (JN 1:3 KJV)

Faith does not operate on things of this world. This world is only a training ground for the world to come. It is for us to learn to trust God in every fiber of our being. Is not to trust him to do what we wish him to do, but trust that we are okay with what God does.

I believe faith is a developed attribute, not a mental decision. Faith comes from spiritual knowledge and understanding. It is a byproduct of spiritual revelation.

My faith comes from this: Jesus, the son of God through whom God created our physical universe, became a human being just like you and me. Mankind he created crucified him and he died. He laid in the tomb or grave of the dead with the faith that his Father would raise him to his new life as king. That is faith!

That same resurrection he has promised to those who love him and follow his word. I know the result of my physical life and it is not to return to dust, never to see life again. That makes everything else in my life seem trivial except to serve him as he sees fit. To know God will raise me to the same type of life Jesus had when he walked the earth after God raised him from the dead on the third day. What will I be like in heaven? He has shown me by his life.

Yes, faith is an asset in living in this life, but a blind faith that God will affect your situation or your life without spiritual help may lead to a terrible disappointment.