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”. (Hebrews 11:6)

Hebrews 11 is the great "faith chapter" of the Bible, sometimes known as the “gallery of faith”. It tells us how great people of faith in the Old Testament overcame difficulties and persecution. The Bible makes it very plain that faith is essential for the Christian life. Several times we read in scripture that “the righteous will live by faith”. (Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38) When we accept Jesus, we are seen by God as righteous - sanctified, pure and holy. We are joint heirs with Him and seated with Him at the right hand of God. We can put our trust in God and know that we are His righteous ones.

The meaning of faith

  • Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see. (Hebrews 11:1)
  • Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17)
  • Faith is, quite simply, just trusting and believing God.
  • Faith sees the spiritual battle as already won - not still to be decided.
  • Faith is taking what God has said and putting our trust in Him and His promises, rather than our feelings, circumstances, desires or natural senses. (2 Corinthians 4:18-5:7)

God’s word tells us that those things which cannot be seen with the natural eye are really the things that matter eternally.

Why have faith?

Without faith, we cannot hope to please God. This is explained a little more in Hebrews 10:22 where we learn that we need faith to draw near to God. True hearts are engendered by faith which is that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust, with confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness. In Romans 14:23 it says: "...everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

Sin is the barrier that prevents us going to God or connecting with Him, but He has told us that, if we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, our sin problem is dealt with. We are : "just-as-if-I'd" never sinned. It means that, “through faith” we are made righteous before God. (Romans 5:1) If God has told us that we are righteous in His sight through Christ and we don’t believe it, we are telling Him that He is lying! How can we draw near to God in such a way? Faith is essential to our whole Christian way of life.

  • Faith ensures success in what we do. (2 Chronicles 20:20)
  • Faith is our basic duty. (John 6:28-29)
  • Faith is a defensive weapon. (Ephesians 6:16)
  • Faith pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6)
  • Faith is essential in prayer. (John 1:5-6; Matthew 21:22; 1 John 5:14)
  • Faith is powerful when it works in tandem with love. (1 John 3:23; John 14:12)
  • Faith gives us peace with God. (Romans 5:1; Philippians 3:9)

How to have faith

Faith is about making a decision to accept God’s word as true and to act upon it accordingly. True faith always results in action - even if it is only the action of deciding to trust God and do nothing ourselves. (James 2:17-24) The following Bible verses provide a list of ways in which we can encourage an attitude of "walking in faith".

  • God plants the seed of faith in our hearts in order to accept salvation. (Ephesians 2:8)
  • Faith comes from hearing and responding to the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
  • Hold onto the power of your confession, always speaking God's word. (Proverbs 18:21)
  • Surround yourself with faith-filled believers. (1 Timothy 4:6)
  • Surround yourself with the word of God because Jesus is the author and developer of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
  • Be patient waiting for God’s answer; His timing is always perfect. (Hebrews 6:12)
  • Don't look at the problem; look at God’s answer in His word. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Categories of faith

No Faith. Where there is no belief in God, it can lead to fear and an inability to connect with God's power. (Mark 4:40; Mark 6:5)

Little Faith. When faith is unsure, the reality of immediate danger can overwhelm it but Jesus is always close at hand. (Matthew 14:31)

Great Faith. Where faith is strong, God can do amazing things in our lives. (Matthew 15:28; Matthew 8:10; Mark 5:34)

People sometimes accuse Christians of using their faith as a refuge from life - “running away from reality”. However, since God’s word is the only thing that will endure for ever, rather than running away, it is more accurate to say that, by putting our trust in Him, we are “running into reality”. Having faith is about being focused on the objective reality of eternity, not the passing moment of the here-and-now. (1 Peter 1:23-25; Matthew 24:35; Psalm 119:152)

From where does faith come?

Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes through the message of God’s word. So, then, it is necessary to read and study His word to know what He is saying to us. In Romans 1:17, we find that our righteousness (being right in God’s sight) is by faith “from first to last” - a thought made more plain by Hebrews 12:2: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith”.

Jesus Christ (the centre of God’s word) is the source of our faith. Together, these verses make plain that the key to understanding how faith comes is found in hearing and accepting God's word. We just need to believe it; that is, trust in, cling to and rely on God's word.

Look at the example of Abraham as described by the apostle Paul in his letter to believers at Rome. (Romans 4:16-25) Abraham never doubted that God would do all that He had said He would do. Abraham made many mistakes, but he consistently trusted God. His faith was strengthened by each problem that he faced and his life is an example to us of walking in the faith of God. (Mark 11:22) Another example of how faith works is found in Hebrews 11:7, where we can see that Noah took to heart God's warning about impending disaster and this became the root and ground for his faith. He responded with "holy fear" and prepared an "ark" as a response to his faith. This faith was rewarded by the saving of his whole household.

So we see that faith is essential for the Christian life and that faith comes from Christ, through God's word. Like Noah, we can respond in obedience to what God has told us to do and will be rewarded, as we wait upon Him to see the fulfilment of all that He has promised. Let us, together, grow in faith and in love as did the early church believers. “We ought and indeed are obligated, to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing exceedingly and the love of every one of you each toward the others is increasing and abounds.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3) Then we shall know the power that there is in knowing God; we shall see many added to our number and even see miracles on a daily basis. As we walk by faith, we will allow God to be God and we will be pleasing Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

In the words of Jesus: “only believe”. (Mark 5:36)

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