Trust or reliance? What is faith for you? To say it clearly: without faith we are really nothing. Faith is belief; believe in us, beliefs in our works, talents and personalities.
We also should believe in our parents or better, in the whole family including the black sheep, who can be found everywhere. We should also believe in our friends, even sometimes it seems to become a very difficult task. A friend? A real friend? An expatriate friend…?
Without faith, we will be reaching the rock bottom. Please don’t say, it’s a likely story. The German poet Johann Christian Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1815) mentioned in his drama “Maria Stuart”: “Even the word might be dead, but faith keeps it alive.” Yes, I can live with this.
Faith and hope belong together. In his book “Through the Valley of the Kwai”, Scottish officer Ernest Gordon wrote of his years as a prisoner of World War II. The 6’2” man suffered from malaria, diphteria, typhoid, beriberi and jungle ulcers. Many circumstances quickly plunged his weight to less than 100 pounds. Lying in the dirt of the death house, he waited to die. But every day, a fellow prisoner came to wash his wounds and to encourage him to eat parts of his own rations. As this fellow prisoner nursed Ernest back to health, he talked with the agnostic Scotsman of his own strong faith in God and showed him that, even in the midst of suffering – there is hope – and faith!
Faith is indeed tantamount to convincing and conviction. Richard Wagner, a German classical composer and poet found the following lyric: “Blessed are those people, who know how to live their life in humility and faith!”
Well, let’s even continue believing in our government. Faithful hope is loyal, reliable, exact and honorable.
Faith looks beyond the transient life with hope for all eternity. The hope we read in scripture is not a wishy-washy optimism. First and second Chapter of Thessalonians, for example, give encouragement to all Christians, who have been undergoing persecution for their faith. And, Corinthians 13:2 says: “If I have faith it can move mountains!”
Faith is one of those words that is commonly used but not always understood. Some of that confusion comes from the many different ways the word faith is used in everyday conversation; a quick look at Dictionary.com shows seven different uses! One common way that people use the word faith is to refer to belief in something despite lacking any evidence for it. But is that what the Bible means by faith? The answer is a resounding no! So what does faith mean?
The closest that the Bible comes to offering an exact definition is Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” From this particular passage we see that the central feature of faith is confidence or trust. In the Bible, the object of faith is God and his promises. A clear example of this is Abram’s encounter with God in Genesis 15. In response to God’s promise of countless descendants, Abram “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15:6). Commenting on this, the Apostle Paul writes, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Rom 4:20-21). Thus faith means putting your trust in God and having confidence that he will fulfill his promises.
Faith is more than intellectual agreement. To use an old illustration, imagine you are at Niagara Falls watching a tightrope walker push a wheelbarrow across the rope high above the falls. After watching him go back and forth several times, he asks for a volunteer to sit in the wheelbarrow as he pushes it across the falls. At an intellectual level you may believe that he could successfully push you across the rope over the falls, but you are not exercising biblical faith until you get in the wheelbarrow and entrust yourself to the tightrope walker.
Genuine biblical faith expresses itself in everyday life. James writes that “faith by itself, apart from works, is dead” (James 2:17). Faith works through love to produce tangible evidence of its existence in a person’s life (Gal 5:6). Put another way, the obedience that pleases God comes from faith (Rom 1:5; 16:26) rather than a mere sense of duty or obligation. There is all the difference in the world between the husband who buys his wife flowers out of delight and one who buys them simply out of duty.
Faith is so important because it is the means by which we have a relationship with God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph 2:8). Faith is how we receive the benefits of what Jesus has done for us. He lived a life of perfect obedience to God, died to pay the penalty for our sinful rebellion against God, and rose from the dead to defeat sin, death, and the devil. By putting our faith in him, we receive forgiveness for our sins and the gift of eternal life.
So what does faith mean? Simply put, faith means relying completely on who Jesus is and what he has done to be made right with God. Are you considering a faith-filled call to Christian ministry? The programs at Grace Theological Seminary will ensure you grow in your faith on your way to equipping others to do the same.
To walk by faith, it’s not enough to believe that God’s word and promises are true, we must act on our belief and stand on the Truth. When what we believe overflows into how we live then our faith is made complete—and is counted to us as righteousness