Faith is an important component of Christian living. Our Lord Jesus emphasized the importance of living by faith and the Bible speaks volumes about faith. Biblical usage of the word “faith” reveals that faith has two applications: the noun “faith” and the verb “faith.”
The word faith as a noun connotes a belief system of doctrine. As a verb, the word generally means to trust in something or someone, to have a persuasion of an idea perceived to be true, or to place one’s confidence in an object along with the assurance that the confidence is valid. Faith was manifested in the lives of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Daniel and a host of others who believed God and His word (cf. Heb 11). Their lives exemplified the faith marked by conviction, belief, and promise of reward.
The dominant concept of faith in Scripture is about choosing to believe, possessing, exercising, and, more importantly, increasing our faith in the Lord, which He seems to delight in.
Common faith is inherent in all mankind. A little child naturally believes in her parents by faith. Faith is a function of a person’s will. With intelligence, a person considers the value of an object of faith, testing its veracity and trustworthiness. As soon as she is persuaded, convinced, and satisfied with her evaluation, she decides to exercise her faith upon that object, that principle, or statement, or person, etc.
By God’s grace, this faith is given to all mankind. God’s grace was there prior to the implementation of His redemptive plan for sinful man (cf. Eph 1: 5,9). This faith is grace-given,since it is furnished freely, and the primary reason God provided man with faith is to demonstrate the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus, to the praise of His glory (cf. Eph 1:5-11). Man is given a choice to believe God, to obey Him or not, and is duly warned of the consequence of his choice:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Gen 2:16,17).
Adam disobeyed God, rendering all mankind dead in trespasses and sin (cf. Rom 5:12). But God, in love, gave man another opportunity to believe in Him in order that he would avail of the blessings of salvation. Once the sinner puts his faith in God’s Son, he receives forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life (cf. Eph 1:6,7).
The sinner, in believing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, ties his faith to the object of his salvation. His faith is rewarded by his trust in Jesus who saves him. Faith is simply the hand that stretches out to receive the gift of salvation provided by the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 3:16; Eph 2:8,9). It is grace, embodied by the Lord Jesus Christ, who saves the sinner.
In the Faith: The body of doctrine
The Apostles taught doctrine for the Church, the Body of Christ. This apostolic doctrine is distinguished by the phrase, “in the faith” or simply “the faith.” Note the following passages:
…strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith (Acts 14:22),
So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily (Act 16:5),
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong(1 Cor 16:13),
…rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught (Col 2:7),
Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen(Titus 3:15).
Once a person is in the faith, God expects that he continues to grow his faith. He may start small, but the goal will be to grow in doctrine to build a greater faith and develop a genuine faith that honors God.
Where is your faith?
The Lord Jesus admonished his disciples for having no faith when they encountered a windstorm on the Sea of Galilee.
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? (Mark 4:38-40).
Luke records, He said to them, “Where is your faith?”(Lk 8:25)
This account is an instance of a lack of confidence and trust in the Lord. In the absence of faith, fear dominates. Our Lord seemed to show displeasure in their lack of faith.
A person may have little faith. This faith was often rebuked by the Lord.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?(Mat 6:30; Lk 12:28).
Many Christians do not get past this stage. Many go through life worried and wondering if God will come through with the promise of providing basic needs. Unless the Christian gets past this level will he be able to move on to greater feats of faith.
Little faith and no faith are exampled in the above passages. Both are beset with doubts, misgivings, and anxieties, and God is not pleased with those who have little or no faith. However, little faith could be increased if asked of Him,
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you (Lk 17:5,6).
The Lord Jesus’ claim is not unfeasible considering the greater feats that can be accomplished with just a little more faith.
A person may strengthen his faith toward great faith. God finds pleasure in him and commends him.
The Centurion, in his absolute confidence in the Lord, did not insist in the Lord’s coming to heal his grievously ill servant. The Lord commended his faith and healed his servant saying,
I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (Lk 7:9)
The Lord also spoke of a woman of Canaan who persisted that her demon-possessed daughter be healed,
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed”
Matthew records that Jesus rewards her great faith by healing her daughter and making her an example for others to follow.
Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour(Matt 15:22, 28).
A person can develop his faith toward genuine faith. God finds pleasure in this person, commends him, and rewards him. Paul wrote of Timothy,
…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice,and I am persuaded is in you also(2 Tim 1:5).
To be genuine means to be sincere and lacking in pretense.
Genuine faith is “tested by fire” in the furnace of affliction, as Peter says,
…that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1Pet 1:7).
This kind of genuine faith is considered more precious than gold.
Genuine faith is evidenced through good works and a life that displays radical transformation in character and conduct from the former ways. The Apostle Paul enjoins the believer to live as Christ’s workmanship,
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Eph 2:8-10).
Why more faith?
A lack of faith may be overcome with little faith. We build our faith gradually, gaining more confidence as we put more trust in Him. Having an unwavering belief in God and His word comes from a consistent reliance on Him, for God never fails.
The Bible examples people of genuine and great faith so that we too can learn from their example and become people of great and genuine faith. Because of our faith, God first saved us and seeks to find pleasure in us as we grow our faith in Him.
A life of great faith likens us to the “wise man” who built his house upon the rock, the Word of God, and enables us to withstand the trials and difficulties of life. The life of a believer who is strong in faith is marked by confidence and poise amidst the ups and downs of life.
Good works is a product of genuine faith, but not without a little faith or great faith. A life of great faith in God strengthens the foundations of our beliefs emboldening us to accomplish greater feats of faith. We become more effective servants, and our zeal in producing good works is increased. With great and genuine faith, we build a life full of good works.
A life of great and genuine faith preserves Godly principles. Weariness, doubt, and impatience usually cause us to make hasty and, consequently, wrong decisions, whereas those who wait on God are always vindicated, protected, renewed, and strengthened (cf. Isa 40:31).
A life of great and genuine faith in God is more precious than gold, receiving praise, honor, and glory by our Lord Jesus Christ.
A life of great and genuine faith is not only expected of one who is in the faith but also for a life that is to be pleasing unto God.
By Richfield A. Cudal