What Is Faith And How Do We Understand It?
“Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith. ~ Habakkuk 2:4
As we approach the topic of what is faith, let us springboard off of the movie entitled Indiana Jones and Last Crusade. The theme of this entertaining film is the search and quest to find the Holy Grail; the cup that Jesus drank from during the Last Supper.
Towards the end of the movie, the plot has developed. Indiana Jones, who’s father has been shot, is forced by the villains to proceed through the various tests culminating in finding the Holy Grail. Helping the heroes of the movie is a book that reveals pictures, diagrams and words to help in the search of this seemingly important religious artifact.
The Test Of Faith
The last test brings Indiana Jones to the edge of a precipice where off in the distance is an entrance way, but seemingly no path that one can walk on to cross over the ravine. Looking at the book that has guided them up to this point, Indiana Jones reads, “The man of God will leap from the Lion’s Head to prove his worth.”
Indiana Jones says to himself this is impossible. Nobody can jump this. It is during this scene that the acting skills of Harrison Ford are in full display. He acts out his anxiety with his full fear of the predicament and certain death if he is wrong. Additionally, this is coupled with his intense desire to save his father who has suffered from a gunshot wound.
Finally, he realizes what he needs to do and, in a dramatic pause; he extends his left foot, hovers above the precipice and takes the leap of faith.
The word faith evolves from the Latin word fides. The actual meaning or definition of it means to trust or have assurance in a idea, a thing or a person.
For example if you sit on a chair you are exhibiting faith or assurance in that chair that it will hold your seated weight. An example of this in an idea would be gravity knowing that if you jumped off of something, earth’s gravitational pull would draw you towards the ground. Or an example of this in a person would be the child-like faith of a child jumping towards their parent knowing that the parent will catch them in mid-air.
belief and demonstration of it is all around us and is a critical part of our environment, interactions and daily occurrences.
If a Christian or a non-believer wanted to know what faith is, a textbook definition that can be shared is found in Hebrews 11:1. This verse declares,
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Faith in God’s Word
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this is to briefly study an example of what faith is in God’s Word.
Take for example Abraham in Genesis 22 who was called upon to sacrifice his son.
In this chapter and verses we are witness to a powerful exhibition of trust between Abraham, his son and God. God instructs Abraham to take his son, his only son, his only son that he loves to a mountain top and there sacrifice his son on the altar. The purpose of this command by God is to test the relationship between Abraham and God and whether Abraham will prove to be faithful.
In These Verses We See The Question Of What Is Faith Defined By A Number Of Elements:
- Obedience – God says to Abraham take your son – Abraham is obedient in verse three.
- Worship – even though the command is to sacrifice his son, Abraham clearly says to the servants that they’re going to worship as seen in verse five
- Trust – God has nothing but the best intentions for us and therefore Abraham says that they will be returning in verse five. He knows God and that God has no evil intentions.
Our confidence is well placed when we lean on God’s faithfulness. This is seen as a particular name of God is revealed. That name is Jehovah-Jireh, or God will provide, as seen in verse eight and verse 14. God is faithful and will always provide for His people.
And so, what is faith? For the Christian it is trust, worship, obedience and belief in the faithfulness of God.
This is also emphasized by its importance. Consequently, knowing what faith is, it is important to know the role or importance of it.
It Pleases God:
First of all, faith demonstrated towards God is crucial. Hebrews 11:6 states,
And 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.
In addition to exercising it and pleasing God, our faith activates His presence and power in situations.
It can be likened to the fullness of God in our lives as a stick of dynamite. In order for this dynamite to explode in any given situation; a spark needs to ignite the attached fuse. Our faith is the spark that is required to release the power of the stick of TNT.
It Has A Direct Bearing On Believers:
This dynamic demonstration of the importance of faith and answering the question of what it is can be directed towards the believer.
The Scripture clearly states that this comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). In addition to our faith being increased by hearing and meditating on God’s Word it is increased through prayer. However, It’s important to remember that prayer is more of dwelling in God’s presence and listening to His voice. True prayer is not really about asking God for things to happen by reading a want list.
Communion With God
Our faith is increased through communion with Him. This spiritual reality can be illustrated by comparing God to a fire burning within a fireplace. The closer one draws to the fire the more the intensity of the fire is felt.
Also, when discussing what faith is, it is important to clarify the effects of this in the life of the believer.
The first major effect in the life of the believer is their relationship with God. In responding to faith, the believer can state that it is the lifeline to a relationship with God through His Son and the indwelling presence of The Holy Spirit.
Discover how faith is our shield of the armor of God.
We are justified by faith. Not only are our sins forgiven, but our past is forgotten.
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 1:17
Faith is our duty, our privilege.
Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” ~ John 6:28-29
In addition to having faith change us, our faith and the effects of it spill over into the world of those around us. In the gospel of John we read,
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” ~ John 7:37-38
We should and will have a significant and impact in this world. The life of Stephen, the first martyr, demonstrates this impact,
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. ~ Acts 6:8
Through Faith, We Will Be The Difference:
· James 2:17-18 reads,
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. ~ I John 3:23
We show forth the love of Christ in a world desperate for a demonstration of real love. The world does not need more of the doctrine of Christ, but more of a demonstration of His love. Also, In Answering The Question Of What Is Faith, We Find That We Are Part Of God’s Army And A Force To Be Reckoned With: In our spiritual battles –
in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. ~ Ephesians 6:16
Our faith changes us in that we recognize the spiritual warfare around us and we stand, by faith, on our victory in Christ.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. ~ I John 5:4
The answer to what is faith is also realized as our lives reveal that this world has no power over us.
who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, ~ Hebrews 11:33
and continues on to talk about conquered, justice gained, flames of fire quenched and armies routed.
Jones Takes The Leap
The fictional character, Indiana Jones, was faced with a challenge. The challenge of what is faith was presented as he endeavored to heal his father who had been wounded. In order for him to find the Holy Grail, fill the chalice with the healing waters and take the vessel back to his father and hope that the waters poured out on his father’s wound would heal, Indiana Jones needed to take a leap of faith.
His leap of faith answered the question of the riddle in the book and what is faith. Obviously the story line is purely fictional. However, the emphasis on faith is the reality for the believer.
So What Does This All Mean To The Christian?
For us, even as Christians, we are not in a bubble of immunity from the negative circumstances and events that occur. Our walk, in good and bad times, requires the same demonstration or leap of faith in order to activate the power and presence of God in our lives and those around us.
The beauty of a faithful relationship with God is that when these things occur, our leaps of faith fill us with the divine peace of God that passes all understanding. Our faith does not keep us from the fires of life, but God, through the presence of His Holy Spirit walks through the fire with us (Daniel 3: 25).
Trust In God
We do this by being obedient to His Word. And also, by trusting in the Fatherhood of God and His care for us. And finally, by worshiping Him and knowing that He governs despite the negativism of circumstances and events in this world. Through this we know He is Jehovah-Jireh Who is our provider.
What is faith? It is the victory that overcomes the world and transforms us. And not only us, but those around us while positively impacting the world we live in.