We are created in the image and likeness of God. As a result, we are capable of being rational and relational, of communicating with words—not just actions, and of bringing order to chaos. However, because of our inherent power as human beings created in his likeness, we Christians sometimes confuse our ability to influence our futures using our thoughts, words, and actions with faith. In other words, some confuse faith with the power of positive thinking and emphasize our human power to change things. Often Christians equate these ideas, which have some validity, with faith. But faith is different. Biblical faith is significantly more.
Faith is much more powerful than our human abilities. But the confusion between faith and our God given human power to influence the future has caused some Christians to believe that their own imaginations are the visions God has for them. Then when those imaginations don’t materialize, they are disillusioned.
Faith is believing in and acting on God’s plan before it materializes and recognizing God’s involvement throughout history and in our lives. It’s the ability to believe God—to trust his character and to take his Word as true and reliable. It’s being persuaded that God is who the Bible says he is. This is our response to the work of the Holy Spirit who enables us to hear God’s Word. It requires thoughtful consideration—it is neither blind nor naive. This persuasion results in an unshakable confidence—a knowing—that God’s Word is true. Faith is ultimately God’s revelation inside us that enables us to manifest his kingdom and his will here on the Earth
- Faith is a persuasion that God is both truthful and trustworthy.
Faith comes from the Greek word pistis (pis-tis) which means firm persuasion; strong and welcome belief; conviction of the truth of anything.
In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul said,
. . . I am not ashamed of it [suffering in prison], for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
When Paul says, I trust, and I am sure that he is able, he is expressing faith. In other words, he is fully persuaded. He is sure. He’s past hoping.
- Faith is substance and reality.
Faith is not imagination, nor is it just wishing things we want into being.
Proverbs 12:11 says,
Ahard worker has plenty of food,
but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.
And Proverbs 28:19 says,
A hard worker has plenty of food,
but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty.
Both of these proverbs emphasize the importance of competent work in contrast to chasing fantasies. Faith is not a fantasy—it gives us direction and confidence in our work. Faith is hearing or seeing what God is doing and believing it. It is the conviction of facts by the inner working of the Holy Spirit, who persuadesus to believe what actually exists. If God gives us faith for something, we can be sure that in the mind of God, it really exists, and as we work in cooperation with God, it happens.
Hebrews 11:1 says,
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
When we have authentic faith, things happen—things that are substantive and real.
- Faith is a gift from God.
We cannot work ourselves up into believing. It is not the result of mental gymnastics. The Holy spirit must place the ability to believe God within our hearts as we read the Word and seek God.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8,
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
- Faith is the response to hearing.
God communicates his thoughts through his Word. When he enables us to hear what he is saying to us by the Spirit, this creates within us the response of believing, of being persuaded that what he is saying is indeed true and directed to us.
Paul wrote in Romans 10:17,
So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.
So what should we do? Expose ourselves to God’s Word, learn to hear God’s voice, grow in our persuasion that God’s Word is true, and have the confidence in God to let our faith be tested by the realities of life. In other words, faithis living our lives with the confidence that God’s Word is true.