Appendix II: WHAT IS FAITH
Many of us wonder about faith. We may even wonder why we don’t seem to have enough faith to receive what we ask for. So, what is faith and how does it really function?
Faith is a word often used to identify a belief or a system of thought, which provides guidance. For instance, we might hear someone ask, “Of what faith are you?” Or, we may be encouraged to “Keep the faith.” In each case, faith is used as a noun and identified as a belief system.
Scripture, however, uses “faith” as an action word. Scriptural faith is an activity that originates with God, who gives it to us as a gift.
God has allotted to each a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).
Scriptural faith is activated in us when a word or inspirational thought is received from God. We exercise faith when we accept what God says to us and allow it to become a confident persuasion. Faith helps us to know the word we hear is, or will eventually be, so.
For this article we will expound on the biblical definition of faith as a gift from God that is exercised as we agree with Him.
God has given spirit to every person. We generally call it the spirit of life. Scripture teaches us that this spirit is in every person, as a gift from God, one that enables our communication with Him, and that eventually returns to Him. This is true even when one does not acknowledge God or give oneself to interacting with Him.
As God has given spirit to everyone, He also gives us faith. The come-from and return-to God characteristic of our spirit is also a characteristic of faith. Faith is a value in each of us that is activated when we hear and accept an inspirational thought from God. Faith enables us to stand with what God says and desires us to do.
So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
The word “Christ” is used correctly in this verse in The Message, NASB, J.B Phillips, and The Emphasized Bible translations. The Greek word that is translated “Christ” means “anointed.” When a spoken or written word is quickened and comes alive to you, it may very well be a word of Christ, an anointed word from God that is intended for you.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith is a confident persuasion that supports a word that comes alive in your moment. Another way to translate the above verse is:
Faith is a confident expectation; the persuasion of what is not yet visible (Hebrews 11:1 – my version).
A word from God can refer to what is not yet visible in our time or space. If a word you hear or read is not quickened to/in you, it may not be the word of God for you or for your current situation. Not all words spoken by God are for everyone or for every moment.
When Peter saw Jesus walk on water he asked for a word. When Peter heard Jesus say “Come,” his faith activated and Peter walked on water. Others may have heard the word, but it was not spoken to them and there is no indication that Peter ever experienced this miracle again. The word given was only for Peter in that moment.
Faith keeps a delayed reality from seeming to be impossible. Abraham is called the father of the faithful (Romans 4:11-13). When God told Abraham he would have a son that would become a great nation, Abraham’s faith was activated and provided levels of stability during the years there was no son.
After Isaac was born and had become a young man, God asked Abraham to offer up the promised son as a sacrifice. Upon Abraham’s obedience, God’s word to him changed. God instructed him to not do what He was previously told to do.
As with Abraham, our faith in God will help us hear a word that might be different from a previous instruction. Faith is based on what God is saying and desiring to accomplish now. Faith is activated to align us with His will for our time. Are we hearing Him for today?
Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).
I am not ashamed of the gospel…For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).
Not everything in Scripture is appropriate for us, or for each of our moments. Living by faith requires an open and willing response to God and His guidance. We experience the righteousness of God from faith to faith, from one hearing and obedient action to another.
Scripture defines faith as our agreement with what God is saying and doing, to such a degree, that we seek to say and do likewise.
Faith, if it has no works, is dead…faith without works is useless…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (James 2:17-26).
We can hear, believe, but then not function in agreement with the quickened word. If we believe what God says and our actions do not follow suit, our faith is inactive, as though it were dead.
Faith is activated and experienced when we hear a quickened word and act in agreement with it. The power of scriptural faith is in our agreement and active obedience to God’s quickened word for our moments.
Israel’s lack of faith kept that delivered generation from entering the promised life. They died in the wilderness. Faith helps us maintain a confidence in God’s ability to accomplish what He says.
Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”…Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith” (Matthew 9:28-29).
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And Jesus said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you” (Luke 17:5-6 see also verses 1-4).
In the above passage from Luke, Jesus taught the disciples to forgive no matter how often they were offended. This was hard to believe, so they asked Jesus for more faith. The response of Jesus clarified that it is not the amount of faith, but the certainty of faith. Faith is practiced as we confidently walk in what God is saying. So we simply forgive.
When a centurion asked Jesus to intervene for the health of his servant, he asked for a healing word because he knew that those under authority do what they are told. Jesus called this “great faith” (Luke 7:1-9). Faith involves our hearing and our agreeing action.
We want to realize that the exercise of our faith is not the same as believing. Beliefs are based on a trust in something or someone. Motivational speakers explain very effectively how our belief can influence outcomes. Our belief wires us to begin to receive and accomplish what we believe. There is no question about it, beliefs are very powerful—be they right, wrong, or somewhere in-between.
For instance, Adam and Eve accepted a deceptive thought in the Garden of Eden that changed their belief. The new belief system that guided their actions no longer agreed with God. Like our first parents, we can be led astray, believe in error, and lose our faith.
While faith includes believing, it is not founded on a belief that God will do what we ask. We can fully believe God will do what we want until we are blue in the face and still not receive it. If what we ask for is not aligned with what God is saying and desiring to do, we ask amiss. Faith’s exercise will agree with God!
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).
Some of the trials we go through are intended to try (to strengthen) our faith in God. The Epistles continually instruct us to encourage, strengthen and build-up one another’s faith (Colossians 2:7; 1 Peter 5:10). In other words, we are to stir-up, establish, and add to faith. We want everyone to realize they can hear God and trust His word.
While God hears our prayers, we are cautioned about presuming that we can instruct God.
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).
The above verse tells us the exercise of faith is connected to what we think, to sound judgment, and to our self-esteem. This passage provides an important insight. When we think we can instruct God or influence Him, we may be thinking too highly of ourselves.
Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him! (Job 40:2)
Our prayers are not efforts to influence God but to proclaim our desire to see God’s best come into our situation. Prayers are to encourage, strengthen, and build-up faith and trust in God and His perspective regarding our needs and wants. Faith is always enriched with, “Not my will but God’s be done” (Luke 22:42).
We want to ask God for what we want to have but always remember to trust He will do what is best for all involved. Faith is activated to help us stand in difficult times. Our faith exercise will glorify God and not ascribe any credit to us or our prayer as though we made it happen.
So, the exercise of faith will not always agree with what God speaks to someone else, nor with what God may have said to us in the past. God does not change but His word to us can. When we exercise faith, we are actively agreeing with what God is saying now and desiring to do in our time and moment.
Faith is a complex concept but it is so simple a child can understand it. Scriptural faith comes from God and enables us to hear, believe, and act in agreement with what God says and desires to do.
Faith comes from hearing…the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Scriptural faith arises as we are quickened by a word from God. Faith is a confident assurance that what God says is, or will be.
May our daily prayer be:
Heavenly Father, thank You for this day.
May I be a better listener of Your voice, and
A better observer of what You are doing, so
I can be a better reflective resemblance of
Your character, attitude, and personality
You’re invited to continue this journey of spiritual discovery in another book in this series: The Christ Culture—A Way of Life Like No Other.
The Christ Culture describes the transforming process that is experienced as we give ourselves to the ways of God. This book brings clarity to the most important concepts of godly life and shines light on many unappreciated aspects of our faith walk. It affirms our heavenly Father wants us to partake of the fellowship of His presence in our midst today, more so than as a someday Judge or eventual King.
The Christ Culture is a fresh way of looking at God’s desire for our life on earth. The culture of Christ is an atmosphere where God’s inspiring presence is experienced and Christ-like attitudes and behaviors are encouraged. Learn the truth about what it really means “to be made” in the image and likeness of God!
Purpose of Life Destines Us
“Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
“I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
“As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience. The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him.
“Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion.
“We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ‘I know why.’
“Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.
“He said, ‘People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life—like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?’ The four-year-old continued, ‘Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.’”
Preparation for old age should begin no later than one’s teens. A life, which is empty of purpose until 65, will not suddenly become filled on retirement.
—Dwight L. Moody
From time immemorial, people have asked: Why was I born? Is there a purpose for my existence? We ask these questions because deep within we desire to understand if there is a purpose we can pursue, instead of just existing and hoping for the best. Our real question is: Can I know and pursue my own unique purpose and destiny? This chapter will discuss the two deepest questions that humans have ever asked: Why are we here? And, why am I here?
Our first question can be answered by restating what has become clear in previous chapters: We are created to know and love God as Father, so we can become reflective resemblances of His heart CAP and love one another as His offspring and maturing children.
The second question about us is more complicated. However, if we do not see and build on the foundation of “why we are here,” our personal purpose will miss a lot of defining value. God comes to us as a Spirit presence to share details on a more personal level.
Heaven on Earth
You may ask, aren’t we just killing time here on earth as we wait for the Celestial Express to whisk us our of this temporal realm? Isn’t heaven where the real action happens? Actually, there is a spiritual purpose for our life on earth. We are intended to incorporate spiritual values into our natural life.
Our life involves the relational interaction of our natural body, our eternal spirit, our conscious soul, and our expressive heart. We all fundamentally have a body, a spirit, and a conscious awareness that enables us to receive input from and interact with both the natural and spiritual realities.
Our life begins with a dominate awareness of natural needs. As we become aware of and respond to the stimulation of our spirit, life becomes more meaningful and significant. The spiritual side of our life incorporates eternal values and the in-depth reason for our existence.
We trust you’ve enjoyed the preview for this chapter. We hope you’ll purchase a copy of the book and join us on this exciting faith journey. Created to Relate is available from this website or Amazon.com