What is Faith?

Faith is a subject often discussed in Christian circles.  It is the believer’s anchor, mentioned 458 times in the New Testament (New International Version).  Nowhere is it better defined than in Hebrew 11:1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Faith is not a “shot in the dark.”  It is not hoping for the best.  It is not a hit and miss proposition.  It is the firm conviction that what God said He will do, He will do!  Faith impresses the Lord and moves His hand to act on our behalf.  Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  There always seems to be a correlation between “seeking the Lord” and faith.  When we “hang out” with someone, we get to know their heart and we develop a give and take relationship that becomes mutually satisfying.  It’s the same with God!

At salvation, every believer is given the measure of faith.  Romans 12:3 says, “…God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”  The King James Version perhaps captures a more accurate rending of this verse when it uses “the measure” instead of “a measure.”  God’s doesn’t give some individuals more faith out of the starting block! We are saved by faith, live by faith and one day will die in faith.  Faith is the victory that overcomes the world!

So, every believer stands on common ground when it comes to faith.  As we study God’s Word and allow it to work in our lives, we become stronger in faith.  Faith, like a muscle when exercised, grows stronger.  The Word of God mixed with His wonderful presence multiplies our faith from the “measure” to “mountain moving” faith.  The Holy Spirit even gives the “gift of faith,” the supernatural ability to believe Him without human doubt, unbelief and reasonings.  

That’s why we need to:

1.  Maintain a consistent, daily devotional life.

2.  Learn how to worship Him uninhibitedly.

3.  Sit under solid, anointed preaching.

4.  Derive encouragement from other Bible-believing Christians.

The Apostle Peter summarizes the outcome of our faith when he writes, “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). 

Faith both initiates and consummates our Christian life.  We begin our walk with faith and end by faith!  Our goal is to see Jesus face to face, when we want to hear Him say, “Well done good and FAITHful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Occasionally we hear God’s people correct one another with the phrase, “You did not receive your answer because you did not have enough faith.”  I suppose that a lack of faith does constitute unbelief, but when individuals are struggling, they need encouragement, not chastisement.  They need a “refresher course” on how to develop their faith.   

While rebuking us, these critics refer to Jesus’s comment to Peter when he briefly walked on the water before looking down at the raging sea and starting to sink.  Jesus held out His hand to Peter and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt” (Matthew 14:31)?   


Jesus correlates “little faith” with “doubting.”  Peter started to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and put them on the raging waves.  Doubt occurs when we put more stake in our circumstances than God’s ability to help us.  Jesus wasn’t rebuking Peter as much as He was instructing him to keep his eyes in the right place. 

Do you remember the story of the father who brought his demon possessed boy to the disciples for deliverance?   “I told your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it” (Mark 9:18).  Again, it appears as if Jesus takes on a rebuke posture when He says, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you?   How long shall I put up with you?  Bring him to Me!” 

After a few minutes, Jesus says to the father, “If you can?  All things are possible to him who believes” (verse 23).

What the father says next captures my attention: “Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief’” (verse 24).

Let’s back up to verse 22.  When addressing Jesus, the boy’s father says, “The demon often throws my boy into the fire and into the water to destroy him.  But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”  He’s talking to Jesus, the Son of God, the miracle worker, and says, “If you can?” 

“If you can?”  What do you mean, “If you can?”  That father evidently forgot who he was talking to!  And we also at times forget to whom we belong.  Yes, Jesus expressed disappointment toward both His disciples and this desperate dad.  But to the man’s credit he says, “Jesus I believe, help my unbelief.”  I for one am glad the Holy Spirit included this story in the Bible!  I relate.  Often, I have asked God to make my faith stronger.  But then He reminds me that I was given “the measure” when I trusted Him for salvation.  Then I’m further reminded that my privilege and responsibility is to let His Word “dwell richly in me” (Colossians 3:16), so my faith continues to get stronger and stronger and my unbelief dissipates. Remember, whoever we feed gets stronger, so let’s determine to feed our faith and starve our doubts.

I too have taken my eyes off Jesus and operated in unbelief.  I too have forgotten whom I serve.  I know I can’t earn my salvation, and I can’t earn any of God’s favor, but when I become determined to “amp up” my prayer life and my fasting, God hears!  Heaven responds. 

Jesus Christ told His disciples (and us) that effective, fervent prayer (James 5:15) and a fasted lifestyle keep us in the realm of belief and help us maintain a faith level that moves the hand of God when we face desperate times.  Jesus places the emphasis, both in Peter’s predicament and the demon- possessed boy’s dad on our need to keep our faith grounded in what He says, not what our circumstances say.


As for me, I do not believe that God punishes us when we struggle with “little faith.”  He does, however, remind us to keep our eyes fastened on Him – not our circumstances – so that we move from unbelief to a faith that accomplishes even the impossible! 



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