Faith is one of the very basic concepts of Christianity but it has become one of the most misused terms as well. We have people that tell us that “if we have enough faith” we can get almost anything from God. In this article I hope to lay out a balanced approach to the subject of faith and what it really means and how we are to grow, exercise, and live by faith.
If you have been around Christian circles long enough, I am sure that you have heard these terms, “We are saved by faith”, “Faith comes by hearing the word of God”, and “Without faith it is impossible to please God”. All of these statements are true, but many people use them to try to get people to do something that really has nothing to do with faith. So let’s take a look at what the Bible says about faith and see if we can make some sense about living by faith.
What is the definition of faith?
The dictionary defines faith this way. Faith is to have belief in and to trust in something or someone with no physical evidence that you can see it. Faith is to hold a conviction too, to have reliance in, to have assurance of, to feel confidence about, and to have trust in something or someone.
The Bible defines faith as
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
So as we can see, faith is to believe and trust in something that we are not fully seeing with our physical senses. Every time I drive to town to get groceries, I cross a number of overpasses on the interstate. I know nothing of physics other than what goes up must come down. I know nothing of engineering yet I don’t give a second thought to crossing over those bridges. I have faith that they will hold. I know this from experience.
The same is true with our Christian faith. We may not understand how God is going to do something, or the way He is going to do it, but we have faith that He will do it. We believe because of our relationship with Him and know that He is trustworthy.
So What does the Bible teach about faith?
There are some very clear teachings in the Bible concerning faith. There are some other teachings that only work in the context of relationship with God. We get into trouble when we confuse the relational teachings about faith with being absolute teachings of faith. I hope that as I share with you the difference, that you will begin to understand how to tell the difference.
The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith.
The Bible is very clear that we are saved by faith. That means that we start our relationship with Jesus based on one thing only. We start it by believing that He died for our sins and will forgive us of those sins and come to live within our hearts.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
Not only is our salvation a gift from God but the faith to believe that message is a gift from God. It is not of ourselves. God gave it to us. The Bible teaches that every man is given a measure of faith (Rom. 12:3). This measure of faith is that gift of faith to believe the message of salvation and to act upon it.
The Bible teaches that it is impossible to please God without faith.
This is one of those teachings that is easily confused. Some people try to use the passage I will share with you, to tell you that God will only bless you if you are acting in faith. This is not what it says. Read with me carefully what it says.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
It says that without faith it is impossible to please God. However if you are a Christian, you already have that faith, so you have pleased God. So now, the only thing you have to do is diligently seek Him. It is all about relationship. God rewards your efforts and getting to know Him!
The Bible teaches that faith grows.
Since our faith is in a person and not in faith itself, it grows over time. The more you get to know Jesus and the more you spend time with Him, the more you realize that you can put your faith in what He says. The Apostle Paul put it this way.
2 Thessalonians 1:3
The way that your faith grows is by building relationship with Jesus. There is no magic formula. Reading the Bible, prayer, fasting, worship, and many other things are all parts of the process of relationship building but they are not some type of secret ingredients to having faith. Relationship with Jesus and getting to know Him on an intimate basis is the key to having your faith grow.
When you do this, then you will come to realize that trusting God for your finances does not mean trusting God to give you a bigger house, fancier car, or a larger bank account. You will realize that it does not mean that you will all of a sudden become healthy, wealthy, and powerful. It means that you will trust Him that no matter what happens, you are truly in His hands and that all things will work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to “His purpose”.
Your life does not become the American dream. It becomes the fulfillment of the purposes and plans of God that He has always had for you and that those plans are eternally better than any American dream could be here on earth.
Resource: The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.