So what exactly is faith? It is believing in the certainty of things that cannot be seen.
To be a believer and a Christian it is something which is absolutely necessary.
But 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 diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
God will reward those who cannot see him, and yet still show a strong desire to find him.
Possessing the characteristic of Faithfulness
You have heard the word “Faithfulness” used in conversation - this refers to someone who is reliable and loyal. This is the type of person who would stay with something no matter what happens. When you read about faith in the New Testament, it is usually referring to this type of loyalty.
This is the central point of what God wants – loyalty and faithfulness are very important to him. He wants us to make a commitment to him and then never later on change our loyalty to something else.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22
The fruits of the spirit include the characteristic of faithfulness. If we have it, then it shows the godliness is growing in us.
What we can’t see
When we talk about faith it is referring to someone who is certain about something without actually seeing it. As Jesus indicates, the more faith you have the more you can achieve.
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20
So nothing would be impossible for the man who had faith.
But it can be argued that if we have faith then we should be able to achieve anything we wish. But as John point out this depends on God’s will.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5: 14-15
If God’s will allows it, then we can do amazing things with our faith. But we must always remember that faith will never allow us to change God’s determined will. However, we should always remember that without human faith many of the events in the Bible would not have happened.
Consider this story:
Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.
And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 2 Kings 5:9-14
Naaman did not want to wash in the dirty river Jordan, but because he had faith he tried and as a result was no longer a leper.
As we have seen so far, faith is being sure about things that cannot be seen. But ofcourse when you think about it, faith itself cannot be seen. You cannot say that this person has certain amount of faith – it cannot be measured. However faith can be seen by others when it affects how we behave. When we look at some people we can see that faith has changed their life. If we this then we should endeavour to copy what they have done.
that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises Hebrews 6:12
Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Hebrews 13:7
The same can apply to us. If we set a good example by showing faith then others will copy us.
The Bible tells us that we must continually increase our faith.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8
As an example, we are told that the believers who lived in the ancient city of Thessalonica had faith that was continually growing.
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
2 Thessalonians 1:3
So what is the secret to increasing faith. The answer is that the more confidence we have in God the more our faith will grow. We can gain more confidence in God through praying to him, through reading his word on a regular basis, through seeing God in action.
An example of seeing God in action maybe when we see one of our prayers answered, or we are aware of the guiding hand of God in some event in our life. These are the things which increase our faith.
Some may say that it sounds like we are being asked to have blind faith i.e. faith without evidence. But this is certainly not the case. There is plenty of evidence that God gives us:
a. evidence of his existence
because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, Romans 1:19-20
b. evidence of the inspiration of the scriptures
See the section in this website entitled "12 reasons to believe in the Bible". Click here to go to this section.
c. continues to provide evidence of his care for his children
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
So with this evidence we can see that there are plenty of reasons why our faith should grow.
Faith under pressure
Sometimes our faith can be tested by persecution and pressure.
And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away
Hebrews 10:38 New Living Translation
We are being encouraged to persevere in our faith if we face pressure. People don’t normally think of suffering as being good for them but it can actually build our character and our patience. When we experience stress in our life, we may feel God’s presence more clearly. When there is pressure we are being encouraged to not abandon our faith but rather show by your endurance that your faith is real.
Is your faith effective?
Effective faith means having hopeful anticipation for the future.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV
Effective faith is being sure and certain about what we believe. This starts with us believing in God’s character i.e. he is who he says. It ends with us believing in God’s promises i.e. he will do what he says. Therefore, if we believe that God will fulfill his promises, the we are demonstrating true faith.
Faith by itself cannot save us. It must be faith based on the truth of God.
because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; Colossians 1:5-6
To have faith is to be certain of the invisible. Faith helps us to:
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Last Updated: Sunday, 08 March 2015