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What is Faith? And Where Does it Come From?

Faith is one of the most important ingredients in the foundation of Christianity. The Bible talks about faith from the beginning to end. But faith can be difficult to understand.

What exactly is faith? And where does it come from? How do you know if you have, or don’t have, faith?

Of course, you could fill an entire bookshelf talking about faith. In this post, I’ll answer a few simple questions about faith and what it looks like in our life today.

What is Faith?

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the Faith Chapter in the Bible. The chapter is full of amazing feats that were accomplished by faith. We read about how Noah’s faith inspired him to build the ark. Abraham’s faith caused him to follow the direction of God, move to a new city, and bear a child in old age. It was by faith that Moses led millions of people out of Egypt and walk through the Red Sea. 

Over and over again we read about how faith was the fuel to some of the greatest accomplishments in the world. 

Hebrews 11:1 provides us with a definition of faith. The NIV version says: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” and the NKJV says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

I love the two words used here that define faith: confidence and assurance.

The test of faith is asking yourself if you’re confident and sure. God knows that as humans, we’re confident in what we see, but what about what we don’t see? We walk by faith, not sight. The only time you need faith is when you aren’t able to see. 

Faith is being confident that God is with you and all things will work together for good. It also adds substance and evidence to things that we can’t see. The faith we have isn’t just a nice idea or thoughts that we have. It has substance and even thought we can’t physically touch it, we know that it’s there. When you have faith, no one can convince you that it’s fake. We might not see it yet, but we know that we will. 

Faith doesn’t care what your situation looks like. Hope is not as confident as faith. Hope says “I hope this happens” while faith says “I know this will happen”. Hope is for the future, faith adds confidence to what we’re hoping for, and is for this current moment.

Hebrews 11:1

Faith in the Old Testament

Throughout the Old Testament, we see examples of faith and trusting God, but the word faith isn’t very common. We see examples of people like Abraham and Sarah who trust God and believe His word, but for some reason, the word faith isn’t used there. 

In the New Testament, we see Abraham referred to as the Father of Faith. Romans 4:16 tells us that Abraham and Sarah received their child Isaac by faith. And that Abraham was justified and made right with God through his faith. Today, we should have the same faith that Abraham had. 

We see more verses in the Old Testament about faithfulness. This is a bit different than faith. Faithfulness is an assurance that someone will follow through on some expectations. Or the idea that we can believe what someone tells us. If our spouse is faithful to us, it means that they’re going to be there to support and love us. They’re not going to run off with another person. 

God shows us His faithfulness when He fulfills His promises. God promised Abraham and Sarah a child, and He showed them His faithfulness by fulfilling what he promised. God told David that He would be with him and God showed David His faithfulness time and time again. God showed Moses His faithfulness by leading the Israelites out of Egypt. 

We also see Bible verses in the Old Testament about trusting God, which is like a synonym for faith, but not exactly the same.

What is the difference between faith and trust?

Faith and trust are very similar. You’ve probably used them interchangeably at some point, and most people do. But, I don’t think they’re exactly the same. 

Faith is often defined as full and complete trust. I’d say that faith is a few levels higher than trust. You can trust someone, but not have much faith in them, but having faith requires trust. I’d also say that trust is based more on your past experiences, while faith is an expectation for the future. 

Faith is a stronger compared to trust, and it requires less evidence.

I also believe that faith inspires us to take action more than trust does. When we trust God we can sleep peacefully at night because we know that He’s going to take care of us. But when we have faith in God, we can take steps forward because of our faith. Having faith is more forward looking compared to trust. 

What did Jesus say about faith?

Faith is mentioned much more in the New Testament. I believe one reason for that is because our relationship with God was made right by Jesus. Here’s what Jesus said about faith:

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20 NIV

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Mark 11:22-25 NIV

“But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’ Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'”
Luke 8:46-48 NIV

“The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!'”
Matthew 8:8-10 NKJV

Where does faith come from?

The Bible mentions one thing that produces faith within us.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Romans 10:17 NKJV

The Word of God, the Good News of Jesus Christ, is the only thing that produces true faith.

When you hear the Word of God, faith has no choice but to increase within you. When you find yourself wavering in your faith the best solution is to increase the level of God’s Word in your life. Reading a daily devotional, or Bible plan is the best way to keep your faith strong. 

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is alive and active. God’s word is always applicable to your situation. The word produces things, brings things to life, and inspires us to take action. 

I’ve found that whenever I hear the Word of God, it silences my fears and strengthens my faith. You can hear God’s Word in church, on a Christian radio station, listening to worship music, or reading the Bible. 

When you hear God’s Word the confidence and assurance that was previously absent starts to rise. You will find yourself going from worry to worship. You will go from looking at your circumstances to looking to the Glory of God. You will go from walking in timidity to walking in bold confidence.

Romans 10:17

Taking a leap of faith

You’ll often hear about people taking a leap of faith. The problem with that is it’s nowhere in the Bible.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we walk by faith. We don’t need to run or jump or leap. If you’ve been worried about taking a giant leap of faith, don’t. All it takes is one step.

Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on water because he had a Word from God. Peter was confident. He had an assurance that as he stepped out of the safety of the boat he would drown. Peter heard the voice of God calling him. Not to anything extreme, just to take one step. Sure, stepping out of the boat sounds intimidating, but Peter knew who was calling him. 

Where is God calling you to take a step of faith today?

When you hear His voice you will have the faith within you that is required to take that first step. Peter did not look at the water, and he didn’t listen to the other disciples who weren’t stepping out in faith. Peter knew in his heart that his faith in Jesus wouldn’t fail him.

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