In Christianity there is a lot of talk on faith. Over the many discussions on this topic I have noticed that there is a very large gap between the biblical definition, explanation and understanding of faith versus the common understanding of faith.
How many times have you heard this phrase or a version of this phrase?
“Yes, things are going very bad but I just need to have faith.”
Sometimes we hear this and nod along in agreement because we don’t really know what else to say... but we can't really ask "Faith in what?"...can we?
Let’s examine what the Bible says about faith. Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1 says this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Poetically it sounds wonderful, but what does it mean. I think we miss the practicality of this statement. Faith, has substance and evidence!
“The substance of things hoped for”
When evaluating the level of faith, it is important to weigh “the substance of what is hoped for”. The “substance” is the object of what you want to see accomplished. For instance, if I have a family member who does not know that Jesus has saved them from sin and death, then "the substance of things hoped for" would be my desire to see my family member saved.
“The evidence of things unseen”
So what would be my “evidence”? Well I know that they do not profess Christ as Savior, but I have the “evidence” given by God through His Word that He is not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance.(2 Peter 3:9)
So my substance of things hoped for is substantiated by the evidence that God desires all to come to repentance. So my faith is rested wholey in the Lord to pursue my family member!
So how can we grow our faith? Well, we know that in Hebrews 12:2 that Christ is the author and perfector of our faith, so we can know that He alone gives and grows our faith. When we ask for more faith we really are asking something very hard. We are asking for a degree of trial KNOWING that He will not give us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The best way I know to describe this is how I give my kids faith in me. When I taught my daughter to ride a bike, she would ask me not to let go of the back of the seat. When I said I would not let go until she told me to, she trusted me. During the process, when I knew she “had it” I convinced her to give me permission to let go (trial). A few things happened here. She trusted me to the point where her “faith” outgrew her fear. I knew she would be ok and ride off into the sunset, but she did not know until she did it.
Isn’t that us? We do not trust God until our faith outgrows our fear. The ironic thing is that our faith cannot outgrow our fear until we KNOW what our Father is telling us! My daughter wanted to ride her bike badly (substance of things hoped for). She trusted my word because up until that point, I had taught her to swim, introduced her to delicious food, threw her up in the air countless times without dropping, etc., (evidence of things unseen). My trust had been earned through the steadiness of her Father's consistency coming through for her on so many different circumstances/trials. So when I tell her “Honey, you GOT this! I am barely doing anything!” She can easily respond with “Ok Dad, Let go!”.
How much do you know the Word of our Abba to be able to say “Ok Dad, let go!” Do we know His Word to trust it and walk in faith because He says that we are good to go?