What is Faith?

Faith is an important subject for the Christian walk. We know that we are saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8), but we also see that we must walk by faith on a daily basis: “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith is so important to God that He says that we cannot please Him without it (see Hebrews 11:6). God will often place us in situations where we are required to exercise faith; this is the way He wants us to live, totally dependent upon Him.

Since faith is so important to the Christian life, it is important to define what it is–and what it isn’t.

Many people see faith as a blind step in the dark, but this is not the case. Neither is faith merely wishful thinking, or baseless optimism. So…what is faith? Let’s look at a few aspects of this important subject.

Relationship is the Foundation of Faith

Faith is what brings us into a relationship with God in the first place, but it is the relationship with God that then becomes the foundation of a true walk of faith. In other words, the more we know God the more we learn to trust Him and walk by faith. The Apostle Paul once said, “I know whom I have believed…” (2 Timothy 1:12). It is not just about what you believe, but Whom you believe.

Outside of the context of an intimate relationship with God, faith becomes reduced to a mere formula. Faith is not a formula; it is not something you can conjure up with positive thinking or correct affirmations. Faith is not magic; it is based on a real relationship with the living God. Though thinking and speaking the right things is important, let’s not forget that this must be in the context of a true relationship with the Lord; this is where genuine faith will arise.

Faith Comes by the Word of God

Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” You see, faith is the byproduct of hearing the Word of God. The Word of God is what ignites genuine faith in our hearts. When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water, he did it at the word of Jesus; this gave him the faith to step out onto the water.

When Elijah was faced with a drought, the word of the Lord came to him, telling him to go to a certain brook where he could drink water. The Lord also told him that the ravens would feed him. Elijah obeyed the word of the Lord, and sure enough ravens brought him food twice a day (see 1 Kings 17:2-6). It was the clear Word of God that gave Elijah faith to know that he would be fed by the ravens.

Outside of the Word of God, faith becomes presumption. There can be a fine line between genuine faith and foolish presumption. Had Elijah not heard God speak that he would be supernaturally fed by ravens, it would have been presumptuous for him to believe so. Had Peter not heard Jesus beckon him to come onto the water, it would have been presumption as well.

Faith is not simply a tool to use in order to get what you want from God. No, it is actually birthed out of hearing His voice (both through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit) and responding to what He says. Faith has substance to it; the substance of the Word of God.

If we want to grow in faith–faith that moves mountains and sustains our walk with God–we must grow in our relationship with God. We must spend time in His Word and listen for His voice. And we must step out when He speaks!

I hope this little study is helpful to you. Make sure to check out my follow up post, where I continue this discussion on faith, and talk about sustaining faith through difficulty by keeping our eyes on Jesus.

*You also might like this related sermon:

Walking on Water:

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2 Responses to “What is Faith?”

  1. bill groomes says:

    Thank you dear brother Jake. Your words, written under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit which you fully confirmed also by God’s own word correctly did greatly encourage me to fully trust in our God while going through necessary times of both blessing and testing. As you said, God expects us to live completely dependent upon Him.
    And so you are absolutely correct that faith is foundational. The object of our faith can not ever be misplaced in Whom we serve, honor and worship as it is with all other so called ‘faiths’ or religions. You aptly pointed out that faith comes in ‘relationship’ with the One True Living God as He so wonderfully designed from the very beginning but severed by sin and wonderfully made possible again only by what His Son Jesus Christ alone could only properly restore.
    Yes the ‘Word’ (Logos – John 1:1-3)Jesus Christ who spoke (Rehma)and sustains all things made by and for Him (Colossians 1:16-20)in love personified and purposed for functioning faith (as you mentioned in the wonderful examples with Elijah, Peter & Paul)for us to conform to Christ daily by living a holy life in faith completely trusting that He alone supernaturally empowers us to do so and to do as He has commanded us to both love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength as well as to love others also made in His own image & likeness as we are to love ourselves. So our faithful obedience to this command must bring him great pleasure and glory which will be fully realized and complete when we are perfectly united with Christ in His Kingdom. Praise be to God!
    I look forward to your continued teaching next on sustaining faith focused fully on the Author and Finisher of our Faith – our LORD Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 12:2 & 2:10)

  2. Janis Anderson says:

    Thank you for your message on faith!! We all need a reminder of how great our God is!!! It is so comforting to know we can put our trust and faith in him no matter what trail we are going through!! He is always holding our hand and guiding us!! Yea what a mighty God we serve!!!

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