What is Faith?
Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true (Philippians 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Its primary idea is trust. A thing is true and therefore worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance, in accordance with the evidence on which it rests. Faith is the result of teaching (Romans 10:14-17). Knowledge is an essential element in all faith, and is sometimes spoken of as an equivalent to faith (John 10:38; 1 John 2:3). Yet the two are distinguished in this respect, that faith includes in it assent which is an act of the will in addition to the act of the understanding. Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith, and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed truth rests is the veracity of God.
Scripture References and Discussion…
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27)
What does this mean?
-we have faith in gospel truths.
-we submit to gospel laws.
-we depend on gospel promises.
Faith is God’s gift on behalf of Jesus Christ. The ability and the disposition to believe are from God. With faith comes patience to weather reproach and loss; which is the ability to look at these as gifts and prize them accordingly.
What underpins this?
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
-The saints are preserved because God loved them with a love that was from the beginning of the world.
-The end (holiness) cannot be separated from the means (faith).
-The outward call of God is the gospel, which is made effective by the inward working of the Spirit. The belief of the truth brings the sinner to rely on Jesus Christ, and so to both love and obey Him: this is sealed by the Holy Spirit on the heart.
There is nothing to prove this other than what has been passed down through the Holy Scriptures; to believers, the Holy Scriptures are the revealed Word of God. The doctrines declared by Jesus Christ and spread by the Apostles are what believers have faith in and practice to:
-honor God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
-become conformed to Christ.
-be used according to God’s will to accomplish the following purposes: 1) to bring the truth of the gospel to others, 2) to fulfill His plan for the defeat of sin and death, and 3) to bring about the salvation of humanity.
Faith comes about as the result of teaching…
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14-17)
The inference is that the gospel was given to be known. The gospel consists of eye-witnessed facts, and this is its core of knowledge. As believers, we give assent to gospel knowledge: this is an overt act of the will that occurs after we have understood, intellectually, what has been presented to us. We assent that gospel knowledge is the truth, and this becomes the essence of faith… not only understanding, but agreement. As to the veracity of God… for believers, this is revealed through Holy Scripture, which is why it is important to have that knowledge.
This having been said…
As believers, we have faith in the gospel and in Jesus Christ… this is truth for us. Bearing in mind that one definition of truth is (the American Heritage Dictionary) … “Conformity to fact or actuality”, someone can state that:
a) 2 + 2 = 4
and then further state that:
b) I have faith in 2 + 2 = 4
Certainly, the premise/knowledge that 2 + 2 = 4 is both understood and agreed to.
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will find something in your circumstances that, from a commonsense standpoint, will flatly contradict your faith. But common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, “It’s all a lie”? When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, “Oh, yes, I believe God can do it”, but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief. Every time my theology becomes clear to my own mind, I encounter something that contradicts it. As soon as I say, “I believe ‘God shall supply all [my] need,’ ” the testing of my faith begins. When my strength runs dry and my vision is blinded, will I endure this trial of my faith victoriously or will I turn back in defeat?
Faith must be tested, because it can only become your intimate possession through conflict. What is challenging your faith right now? The test will either prove your faith right, or it will kill it. Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Matthew 11:6)). The ultimate thing is confidence in Jesus. “We have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end …” (“We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end the confidence we had at first.”) (Hebrews 3:14)
Believe steadfastly on Him and everything that challenges you will strengthen your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test. Faith is absolute trust in God – trust that could never imagine that He would forsake us.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)