By Kathy Howard, Crosswalk.com
Everyone has faith in something or someone. Every person lives his or her life based on some sort of belief system. But what does the Bible say about faith?
According to “Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,” the Greek word most often translated as “faith” in the New Testament means “belief, trust, confidence.” But our faith needs an object, something or Someone in which we believe, trust, and have confidence in. Since only God can save, He is the object of a Christian’s faith.
In his book “Systematic Theology,”Wayne Grudem defines saving faith like this: “Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life in God.”
But what does biblical faith look like in our lives today? Let’s explore seven key things the Bible teaches us about our faith in God.Photo Credit: thinkstock©
Faith is a Gift From God
We cannot save ourselves. We cannot work hard enough or be good enough. Only God has both the power and authority to save us. From beginning to end, our salvation is solely His work. Yes, God saves us through our faith. We are “justified” by faith (Romans 5:1). But even our faith is given to us by God. We can take credit for it. We can manufacture it. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).
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2. Faith Does Not Abandon Reason
Faith is not illogical, blind acceptance. True biblical faith is not a flimsy hope. Instead, our faith is an “assurance,” a firm, solid confidence in the object of our faith. The author of Hebrews describes this aspect of faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” God can stand up to any scrutiny and investigation. Scientific facts abound to undergird our faith in a Creator.
An abundance of historical information exists to support the biblical narrative. God has also confirmed all of His Word by miraculously demonstrating that we can trust His promises. For instance, the resurrection of Jesus assures us that Jesus will return to judge the world (Acts 17:31). Living a life of faith does not mean we will never have questions about God and His ways. But when we do have questions, we know we can trust the One who has all the answers.
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3. Faith Fills in the Gaps
While faith is reasonable and logical (see previous point), questions still abound in many areas of a believer’s life. For instance, we can’t see what the future holds. We don’t understand why God allows certain circumstances into our lives. We struggle to comprehend important truths about the ways and nature of our incomprehensible God.
Until we get to heaven - or until Jesus returns - we walk by faith. We trust God with both the understandable and the incomprehensible. Faith drives and guides our lives in every area. “… for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV).
This is the theme of the “Hall of Faith” in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. Abraham obeyed God and left his home even though he didn’t know where God would lead him (Hebrews 11:8). Abraham and the other men and women of God who came before us were not perfect people, but they lived “by faith,” trusting in God and His promises even when they couldn’t see beyond the next step.
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4. Faith Will Produce Good Works
Faith that saves is more than mere acknowledgement of the existence of God. Even the demons believe in God’s existence and tremble at the knowledge (James 2:19). But they disobediently oppose God. Their belief does not save. Faith is not simply belief in a set of facts.
Faith trusts so much in its object of faith that it is moved to action. True faith makes itself known in our lives by obedience (Romans 1:5). Saving faith will work itself out through good works. The New Testament author James recognized and taught that living faith is active. Saving faith, given to us by God, will always result in good works.
If we persist in disobedience or our lives are void of spiritual fruit, our faith may be dead (James 2:14-17).
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5. Faith is Strengthened by Trials
God uses difficulties, trials, and persecution to test, strengthen, and grow our faith. Just as fire refines gold and silver by burning away the dross, the fires in the lives of believers burns away the impurities in our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7). Our faith can get lazy and flabby when times are easy.
But, trials are an opportunity for our faith to work – and get a workout. Just like lifting increased weight builds and strengthens our muscles, “lifting” our faith in hard times builds and strengthens our faith (James 1:2-4). So, let’s not waste these opportunities to grow our faith.
When the difficulties come – and they will! – let us rely on our faith in God.
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6. Faith Trusts in a Person, Not an Outcome
We will have difficulties, disappointments, and derailments in this life. Sadly, some Christians become discouraged when life gets hard and their prayers aren’t answered in the way they had hoped. Too often we mistakenly put our faith in a desired outcome rather than in the One who hears our prayers.
When God tested Abraham’s faith and told him to sacrifice his only son, Abraham obeyed. He believed in the power and promises of God. Because Abraham trusted in God and not a specific outcome (Hebrews 11:17-19), God was glorified and Abraham’s faith was strengthened.
When we ground our faith in God – not an outcome - no matter how He chooses to work we will not be shaken.
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7. Faith Protects us From the Enemy's Arrows
Satan, the evil one, is our enemy. Not only is he the father of lies, he also works to foster guilt, shame, and doubt in our hearts and minds. He whispers in our ear that God doesn’t exist. Or that God doesn’t care. Or that God cannot do anything about our situation. Satan reminds us of our failures and mistakes, drudging up sin that God forgave long ago.
But faith in God is our strong defense against all Satan’s attacks. In Ephesians 6, Paul likened our faith in God to the oblong Roman shield that was large enough to cover the soldier’s entire body. Our faith in God, His character, and His ways is a shield that blocks the enemy’s pointed schemes against us. Faith extinguishes those fiery lies from hell (Ephesians 6:16). Faith in the Holy One negates the power of Satan. Hold your shield high and do not set it aside.
May these truths reflect our own lives and faith. And may our faith continue to strengthen and grow abundantly as we learn to trust the Object of our faith more and more. “Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, NLT).
A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakeable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
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