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What is Faith in the Bible?

What is the Biblical meaning of faith? Many Christians would point to two verses found in Hebrews if asked these questions.


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


Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

But what do those verses mean? We often think of these things as beliefs and activities of the mind. Is that the case? Do we have to learn to believe more or harder? Is it just having hope?


what is faith - the definition of faith

WHAT IS FAITH?


Given the scriptural significance of faith and the essential need in our Christian life, it is vital to increase our understanding.


Over the years, I have collected many thoughts as I have considered the meaning of faith. In this post, I have compiled and grouped these into a collection of notes to help give more clarity concerning this. Some of it may seem repetitive, but I intentionally wrote it that way because each idea provides a slightly different picture.


I trust it blesses and gives you further insight as we look into the meaning of faith.



GOD'S WORD THE FOUNDATION


Romans 10:17 - So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


There is only one source for faith, God’s Word. God’s Word is His will. When we know His will is, there can be a substance for what we believe. It can only begin where God’s will is realized. That comes by hearing His Word. Our confidence is established on truth, the truth of God's Word.


Faith is then expecting God to accomplish what we know is His will to do.



RESTING ON GOD’S PROMISES


We cannot expect it to be possible to exercise faith unless we know that the promises of God are given to us.

Faith acknowledges God’s promises and His faithfulness in doing what He says. It looks to God and what He says and nothing else.



IT IS A SUBSTANCE


Faith is the substance of things hoped for in our heart in the present moment.



NOT PRESUMPTION


Faith is not presumption. It is founded upon the surety of what God says and acting appropriately. Presumption believes without evidence or substance. Presumption is believing and acting without promise. It is trying to build upon something without having any foundation.



IT IS NOT INTELLECTUAL


Faith is produced in our spirit, not in our minds. Many have made faith a product of the mind when it is a divinely imparted grace and work of God in our spirit. It is a spiritual activity, not intellectual knowledge or understanding. Our physical mind or brain, or will, cannot produce faith. Our knowledge may give us a reason for faith, but the believing comes out of our spirit.

This work is imparted to us through the abiding presence of God, the work of Christ, and the resident activity of the Holy Spirit.


Genuine faith can be received as it is imparted to our spirit by God Himself. It is born in our spirit. It starts and ends in Him.


Hebrews 12:2 - Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….


Jesus is the Author and the Finisher. Therefore, we cannot make it happen. It can’t be something we naturally, in our strength form in our lives. If God begins it and ends in Him, then we shouldn’t labor in ourselves to manufacture it when only God can impart faith!



NOT BASED UPON CIRCUMSTANCES


Romans 4:18-21 - Against all hope, he believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body to be dead (when he was about a hundred years old), nor yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able to perform.


Natural circumstances do not produce faith. It is the substance of things hoped for despite what it sees - despite the situation. It stands on far more solid ground than the evidence of our physical senses or environment. Our minds or senses cannot rule us.


Victorious faith is being "fully persuaded" that God will do what He has promised.



IT MUST ACT


James 2:18 - But a man may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.


James 2:20 - But do you want to be shown, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?


James 2:26 - As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.


Faith is a living spiritual activity, produced in us out of God’s living Word, to deliver God’s life in our lives and situations. It hears what God’s Word says on whatever subject we need to hear and then acts upon it. It is tested or proven in our lives by what we do. Faith without obedience is only theoretical. It will prove itself in use by making us into what God wants us to be.



IT HEARS AND SPEAKS


Earlier we read that faith comes by hearing God's Word. That being true, it has to be spoken to be heard. We can't hear something if it isn’t said. Faith is like a seed and is planted by speaking it. Speaking and hearing are essential to having and increasing this spiritual activity. Speaking God's words creates within us what is needed which is the substance of things God has provided to us.



FINAL THOUGHTS


Hebrews 10:23 - Let us firmly hold the profession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.


If we could not lose faith, we would not need to hold fast to our profession.


A preliminary step in faith is getting to where we abandon all. We cannot trust God with all our heart as long as we lean on someone else.


I hope this helps as you consider what is faith.



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