What is Faith?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1, English Standard Version

whatisfaith As Christians, we often talk about faith. Faith in God. Faith in Christ. Have faith that the Lord will answer our prayers. Have faith that things will turn out better tomorrow. “Oh, ye of little faith.” Strengthen your faith. Is your faith weak? And so on.

But what is faith?

The explanation of “faith” is too often forgotten in discussions about having faith in the Lord, and the word itself has become a sort of catch-phrase or Christian buzzword whose meaning has been lost. We can talk about faith until we are blue in the face, but it will be completely pointless unless we understand what faith is. After all, we cannot share what we do not know ourselves with others. So, lets dive right in!

The New Testament speaks a great deal about faith, and the Greek word most often translated as faith is pistis, which means persuasion, conviction of truth, reliance on something, assurance, certainty.

Already, you may be able to see that the word “faith” holds much more meaning than we tend to give it. Faith is more than just to believe that God exists or that Christ died for you and me. Belief is good… Yes, belief is essential. The Bible indicates that belief is the first step in our relationship with the Lord. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

But faith is more than just belief. Faith is complete trust in the Lord, no matter the situation, and to rely solely on Him, not on our own strength or reasoning. Hebrews 11 is often called the “By Faith” chapter, because in this chapter, we are given examples of people throughout the ages who trusted in the Lord. Let’s look at three of them together:

  • Noah trusted that when the Lord said the world would be flooded, it would be flooded; that when the Lord promised to save Noah and his family, the Lord would save Noah and his family; and so he built the ark just as the Lord told him. (Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 7-8)
  • Abraham trusted the Lord even when the Lord told him to leave his home and everything he knew in the city of Ur and he went out into the wilderness. (Hebrews 11:8-10; Genesis 12:1-5)
  • Moses trusted the Lord when he turned his back on his Egyptian status (symbolic of all the worthless riches and glories this sinful world had to offer) to be one of God’s people.

Certainly, none of these things would have been easy to do. These three men, and everyone else mentioned in this chapter of Hebrews, trusted in the Lord whole-heartedly, with their entire being. Having faith in the Lord is to trust Him always and with everything in our lives. As Hebrew 2:13 says: “I will put my trust in Him.” When we trust someone, what do we do? We confide in them our secrets, we ask them for advice on our problems, we do what they tell us, etc. When we trust in the Lord, we do things that strengthen our relationship with Him: we pray, we study His word, we follow His commandments and teachings, and so forth.

Faith means to trust the Lord always and with everything no matter the situation. Click To Tweet

Faith also means to rely on the Lord, not on ourselves. This world teaches that we need to look out for #1 and that if we do not help ourselves, no one will lend us a hand. We get to the top by our own powers, and it does not matter who we step on along the way or even if we stress ourselves into illness later. Living a life like this does not make us happy nor is it good for our health and insanity. Having faith in the Lord means that we rely on His strength, not our own, to get us through the trials that we face in our lives.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” This simple verse has helped me through so many difficult times. For example, the promise in this verse kept me calm and stress-free throughout high school and even college despite difficult classes, hard exams, papers, too many activities, peer pressure, and everything else youth and young adults face on a daily basis! Whenever I did start to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, lost, or discouraged, I would repeat Philippians 4:13 and be reminded that my own strength is weak compared to the mighty power of our Lord God who loved me so much that He died for me.

So, faith is more than just believing. It is trusting in the Lord and relying on Him, and when we trust and rely on the Lord, our faith will show in how we live our lives. As Hebrews 10:38 says: “Now the just shall live by faith…”

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About Jacquelyn

Jacquelyn Van Sant lives in Mesa, Arizona, with her husband Bradley and their one-year-old son. She works as a web application developer for a large American university and is an active member of the Tempe SDA Church in Tempe, Arizona. In her free time, she enjoys singing, writing, drawing, and hiking. Jacquelyn wrote songs for Christian recording artist Jessica (Fisher) Cyiza's debut album New Life (2011).