The Nature of Faith

There is no more important concept for a Christian to understand than the nature of faith. The Creator has established faith as the means by which we live and relate to Him. We are saved by faith (Eph. 2:8,9), and we walk or live by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Faith is the operating principle of life. Everybody lives by faith. The only difference between Christian faith and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith. The real issue is not whether one believes or not believes. The real issue is: what or whom does one believe in.

To illustrate how faith works, consider how we drive our cars. When we come to an intersection and see a green light, we continue to drive through without stopping. We couldn’t see the color of the light facing the other direction, but we believed it was red. We also believed that the drivers of the cars coming from the other direction saw the red light, and we believed they would stop. If we didn’t believe that, we wouldn’t enter the intersection or we would do so very cautiously.

Hope is the parent of faith. The biblical idea of hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is the present assurance of some future good. People don’t proceed by faith if they have no hope. Suppose you wanted to catch a bus. You walk to the bus stop by faith, hoping the bus will be on time, and that the schedule is right. If the bus never came and the schedule was wrong, your hope would be dashed and you would lose your faith in the public transportation system. If you thought you had no hope of catching the bus, you would not proceed by faith.

The object for our Christian faith is the God of all hope. The record of faithful people in Hebrews 11 is a testimony of God’s faithfulness. They had great faith, because they had a great God. They chose to believe God and live accordingly even during times of extreme hardship. By faith Noah built an ark when there was no body of water on which it could rest (vs. 7). By faith Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son, because he believed that God could raise him from the dead (vs. 19). These heroes of faith believed God when they did not receive what was promised in this lifetime, because they looked forward to a greater eternal reward (Vss. 13-16, 39,40). That is the ultimate test of faith.

Dr. Neil

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