What is Faith?: A Biblical Perspective

Faith. It is a word that we hear all the time. 

“It will work out, just have faith”

“Keep the faith”

So what is faith? Let’s look a little deeper at what faith is and what it means in our lives.

What is Faith?

Faith is a pledge or assurance of the things that we hope for, but have not yet received. 

Faith is what we hope for and the evidence of the things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old lived lives of courage. By faith, we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. (Hebrews 11:3) 

Other words related to faith that we use are (confidence, belief, trust).

  1. Full of trust or confidence in someone or something
  2. Strong belief in God, religion or based on spiritual belief

In Hebrews, the word faith is “emunah” which means “support”. A perfect explanation of faith is “the Lord’s support” for us because He is working in every single matter for His glory. By faith, we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we see did not come from anything that can be seen. (Hebrews 11:3)

Where Does Faith Come From?

The first foundation is that faith does not originate from within us. We are not born with a natural capacity to have faith in someone or something. If you try it by your own willpower, we’ll be disappointed.

This faith came from the Word of God: 

“So faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17) 

Faith can only happen from a newborn heart, generated by God. It is a gift from God. This is a unique way in which Jesus Christ brings redemption to people.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (“Romans 5:1”). It also helps us to fight and motivates us to do what God yearns us to do. 

God is not only the Giver of faith, but He is also the Author, the Creator, of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-3) looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

faith

Faith in the New Testament

One of the great stories about having faith in the New Testament was the “Two Blind Men Healed” by having faith in God. When Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” 

Their response was, “Yes, Lord.”

Then He touched their eyes, saying “According to your faith let it be to you” And their eyes were opened — the two were healed. (Matthews 9:27-30)

You can sense in this moment that the two blind men believed in advance that it would be done by Jesus. God knows our circumstances and wants people to trust in Him.

Faith in the Old Testament

An example of faith in the Old Testament is the story of the three young Jewish men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego). They refused to bow to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar. The Tigris-Euphrates basin (605 – 562 BCE) Nebuchadnezzar was described as the greatest military leader of the Neo-Babylonian empire. 

“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18)

They had a strong faith in God, not to bow to the image. They did not know how God could deliver them from the fiery furnace – if it was by saving their physical lives or later in the resurrection. Their trust was in the power of what they could not physically see, and it was the proof which was not yet seen or received.

What is the Difference Between Faith and Belief?

People often use the words faith and belief interchangeably. These words are similar but have slightly different meanings.

In this statement, the word “believe” or “belief” is translated from Greek word, “pisteuo”

The Apostle James in his epistle talked about what he called “dead faith”. Dead faith is when one believes in God, but does not obey His commandments. James said, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19-20).

How to Keep Faith in Times of Trouble?

Here are some ways to keep your faith strong: 

1. Keep a positive attitude. Set your mind that you will trust God’s plan for you – even when stress and pressure overwhelm your life.

2. Surrender. Set aside all your worries, anxiety, heartaches, problems, and bitterness, and let Jesus help you and make the right decision for every situation.

3. Be generous. Bless others with your time and resources. God loves a joyful giver.

4. Spend more time in the world. Get to know other people and cultures. Challenge yourself to know and understand other people that are different from you and how God loves them dearly.

5. Reach out to family and friends. Having strong communication with your parents, siblings, and relatives helps us when we are in trouble and we are stronger when we are together than alone.

person of faith

Heroes of the Faith

We have many heroes of faith that we can look to throughout the Bible:

Mary was faithful to God when she was chosen to be the mother of his son. Mary trusted her God and followed the role He had for her. (Luke 1:35-38)

Abraham had faith in God when he was called to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering. (Genesis 22:1-8)

Moses had faith when God asked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and across the red sea, away from everything they knew. (Exodus 14:10-14)

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (Hebrews 11:20)

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. (Hebrews 11:21)

By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)

Though these people were not perfect, God used them and they lived courageous lives of faith.

God Gives Faith to Those Who Seek It

Faith is increased by drawing closer to God through prayer and studying the Bible.

In the Bible, Paul said to the Philippians to “be anxious for nothing [don’t worry], but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

All the members of the Church of God in Philippi believed in God’s word, trusted and obeyed with all their heart in His commandments. They were attentive to what Paul instructed them on giving their care to God, then their faith was increased. 

Another way to increase faith is by reading or hearing examples of faith in the Bible. As mentioned in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” 

When we read the Bible, our faith (confidence and assurance) increases, when we hear the word of God, our faith (emotional, mental, spiritual) increases. 

How to grow in faith?

To grow in faith takes time, patience, and obedience. Here are some practical ways to grow in faith:

1. Ask God to increase your faith – Through prayers in all kinds of matters, whether you’re struggling or not, He will be glad to give it through the Holy Spirit.

2. Focus on obeying God – No one is perfect in this world – focus on following God’s word and commands.

3. Spend time reading and hearing God’s word – Make a habit of giving yourself time in reading God’s Word or listening to the Bible

4. Spend time with other believers – We are meant to worship together, pray and share our faith with one another. Hearing inspirational journeys with people is really encouraging for yourself and others.

5. Spend time in prayer – Setting a time for you and God is very important. This is your solitary time to share with God all that is within your heart and mind. Your faith will grow in abundance from this practice.

How do you live by faith?

Paul mentioned “the just shall live by faith” in (Romans 1:16-17). Living by faith is living our lives as Jesus Christ lived His life. Obeying and doing the things He did.

It includes what you do and says as well as what you believe. James says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19-20)

By applying it to yourself, having faith with action is a living faith with God. Faith is simply dead without the fruit that comes along with living a life of faith. Therefore, the way you live is essential in living a life of faith.

Summary 

The lesson of faith is to believe, and trust in Him, whatever it takes. He is the one you’re looking up to. 

If you keep your faith close, He will guide you. The Lord will be with you every step of the way throughout your life, but especially when you need Him most. 

2 Timothy 4:7 states, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”