Faith, what is it? Where do we get it from? What can it do for us? Everybody is faced with these questions, for humans are very much alike. These are important questions and they rightly deserve an answer. Through studying God’s Word, through prayer and the experiences of life we learn that faith becomes more than just a concept or a theory; to me personally, faith is an experience—a lifetime journey.
What is faith? No better definition is given than that found in God’s Word, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”1 So faith is composed of substance and evidence —what do these terms mean?
- Substance: is a real physical matter or something which is tangible and has a solid presence.2
- Evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.2
Rephrasing the verse it would read, “Faith is the real, tangible, and solid presence of what you hope for, based on the available body of facts or information which prove this thing is real, though it cannot be seen.” Does that shed more light on the subject? We believe and hope that something is real, though we cannot see it, but we base this belief on the evidence that has been provided until we are sure that it is not just a myth, but a reality!
Let me illustrate. The story is told of a man, a famous lecturer, who ridiculed Christianity, the existence of God and the absurdity of faith. One day he lectured from the podium of a prestigious university. In the presence of all the audience, he defied God and challenged anyone to refute his arguments. At this, a gentlemen rose from the crowd and said to him “Sir, do you have a brain?” The atheist retorted, “What do you mean man? Of course I have a brain!”
“But have you ever seen it?”
“Uh… no” stuttered the atheist.
“But you are sure you have one?”
“Yes” was the hesitant answer of the atheist.
“How do you know you have a brain without ever seeing it? It is because you believe; you have faith because you see the evidence of your brain at work. The fact that you can talk, hear, see and reason, this gives you the faith that you have a brain which God gave you!” The atheist man was speechless. “So it is with God…” continued the Christian gentlemen “We cannot see Him, but His works testify of His great Existence.”
Faith defines you
Faith is also a set of beliefs that define what you should and shouldn’t do in life. The daily acts, by repetition form habits, and the various habits of your life form character. Can we now see how important it is to have correct beliefs? It moulds our character, or who we are – it moulds us in the various spheres of society and ultimately will determine whether we will attain eternal life.
How to get faith
Is getting faith as simple as going to the local corner store and buying 3 kilos of flour? How do you get faith? The word of God has a very simple answer to this important question, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”3 As we study the wonderful stories of the Bible and what salvation means to us personally, God will give us faith in Him!
The Bible also tells us that God has given to every person a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3). Everyone has a degree of faith, we just need to make use of it! And the way we make use of it is by claiming God’s promises. We need to look to ‘Jesus the author and finisher of our faith’.5 Jesus is the Author of faith! He is the one that created it! The fact is that we need faith, and it is part of our existence. Napoleon once said, “Take away a man’s faith, and you have destroyed the man!”
Exercising our faith muscle
If you want strong muscles you need to work hard. It’s the same with faith, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge…”4 So how will our faith be strengthened? With DILIGENCE! What is diligence? Careful and persistent work and effort. But just as when building strong muscles, you don’t get them overnight—it’s a process that takes persistent effort and daily practice. That’s why the Bible says that the just will live by faith.
A personal experience
So what can God do for us through faith? I remember it was the spring of 2002; we were in the process of buying a house. We had until then been living in rented properties for a bit over a year. We were moving from house to house and by then it was our fourth move, all our belongings and possessions were packed in boxes and we were living out of suitcases.
One day, my parents decided to buy a house. Finances were tight but we needed to find a place that we could call ‘home!’ We searched and searched for a property that suited our needs and wants. I remember we were in deep prayer and much anxiety. Nothing seemed to match what we were looking for. Finally my family decided that we were going to leave it in the hands of the Lord. We had done our fair share of worrying, and we decided to leave the matter in the Lord’s hands. We had confidence that He would find us a place to live.
One night, we all knelt down in prayer. With a great burden weighing us down, we sent our petitions up to our Lord. We expressed our desires to Him; a house with three bedrooms, a bit of land to cultivate, and ready established fruit trees, polished floors (as I have an allergy to certain carpets!) and the girls wanted a cubby house! This was our humble desire and we left it in the hands of the Lord.
Next day we were driving with the real estate agent around the outskirts of the town of Childers in Queensland. She had a few places to show us, and up to this point we had not seen what we were after. Suddenly we drove past a property that had a “for sale” sign up. We asked the agent if we could see this particular property and so she made arrangements and took us in for an inspection. We were thrilled; this place had everything that we had prayed for! The house had three bedrooms and polished floors, 20 acres of land which could all be cultivated, a few hundred fruit trees, and even a cubby house for the girls! It seemed too good to be true! So negotiations began and the Lord provided a new place we could call ‘home’.
We entrusted the Lord with our needs and desires, and He did not disappoint us. We had faith that God would provide, and it surely came to pass. The word of God says: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”6
May the Lord help us as we search for a greater faith, that through searching God’s word we may have eternal life! God bless you all, and may the Lord give you a greater measure of faith.
- Hebrews 11:1
- New Oxford American Dictionary 2005
- Romans 10:17
- 2 Peter 1:5
- Hebrews 12:2
- Matthew 7:7