Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.

Faith Defined

  1. Faith is a constant, abiding trust in something. Biblically, faith means trust in God (or, as our primary study passage, Hebrews 6:1, puts it, “faith toward God”), not faith in other people or things, in feelings, or in circumstances.
    Faith in God gives us the ability to believe His Word and to appropriate it in our lives. Faith, which comes only after we repent of our self-sufficient trust, does not depend upon the acquisition of information or on prior experience, because it originates in our hearts or spirits rather than in our minds. By faith, we stay connected to the Source of life.
    That is why the Word tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). God is our Father, and He dearly desires to share His life with us. Without faith, we cannot respond to His invitation, which is another way of saying that is that without faith, we cannot please Him. Without faith, we lack the means to respond to Him.
    We can believe in and have faith in God because of who He is. His Word is true and He Himself is completely incapable of telling a lie. He is trustworthy in the truest sense of the word. Anyone who puts his or her whole trust in Him will not be disappointed.

    1. Hebrews 11:1, New King James Version (NKJV): “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
    2. Hebrews 11:1, Amplified Version (AMP): “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”
    3. Hebrews 11:1, New American Standard Bible(NASB): “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
    4. Hebrews 11:1, New International Version (NIV): “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
  2. Two Greek words are translated “faith” in the New Testament:
    1. Pistis (noun)
      1. That which causes trust and faith; faithfulness and reliability, solemn promise or oath; proof or pledge
      2. Trust, confidence, and faith (in the active sense)
      3. That which is believed (a body of faith or belief, a doctrine)
    2. Pisteuo (verb)
      1. To believe in something, to be convinced of something
      2. To trust or believe in God or Christ (with or without a sense of reliance upon God’s willingness and ability to help and save)
  3. Faith is a present reality. Faith is as definite an assurance of the promises of God as a legal title deed. Faith is your contract. Faith states unequivocally, “This is yours. You possess this.” “Assurance” in the Greek is the same word used for “reality” or “actual being” (as opposed to what merely seems to be), and also to the realization of something such as a plan.
  4. Faith must be contrasted with hope. Hope has to do with waiting for something, while faith does not. Hope is not a present reality. Hope means a desire or an expectation of something in the future. Both hope and faith deal with the realm of the unseen, and they are founded upon God’s Word. (See Romans 8:24; 2 Corinthians 5:7. See also Romans 10:17; 15:4.) See how closely faith and hope are connected together: “By faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope” (Galatians 5:5, NIV). Without Christ, we can have no such hope (see Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13), for hope is rooted in saving faith (see Romans 5:1–5). Hope breeds an atmosphere of faith.
  5. Faith is a certainty. Faith looks into the unseen, and it sees things. Faith speaks from the temporal into the eternal, and it calls forth from the eternal realm that which is not yet present in the temporal realm. It pulls eternal reality into your earthly existence. Faith, in other words, is like a magnet, drawing the eternal promises of God into the now.
    How can we have such certainty? We can have a solid “conviction of things not seen” because it is based upon the Word of God. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Nothing is more certain than that.

    1. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.  Romans 4:20–21, NLT
    2. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11
    3. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”  Numbers 23:19
  6. Faith must be contrasted with sight. Faith is more certain than the things we can see. In fact, “We live by faith, not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV.
    1. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV
    2. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”  John 3:3, NASB
    3. ” I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  Psalm 27:13
    4. ” Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’”  John 11:40

What Causes Faith to Arise?

  1. Faith arises by the preaching of the Gospel. In the words of Paul to the Romans: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”  Romans 10:14
    1. “At his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior”.  Titus 1:3, NIV
    2. ” But what does it say? The Word (God’s message in Christ) is near you, on your lips and in your heart; that is, the Word (the message, the basis and object) of faith which we preach.”  Romans 10:8, AMP
    3. “And we also [especially] thank God continually for this, that when you received the message of God [which you heard] from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the Word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its superhuman power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it].”  1 Thessalonians 2:13, AMP
    4. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.  John 1:1
  2. Faith arises through the written Word.
    1. On the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13–32) after Jesus’ death on the cross, the disciples’ hearts burned within them as faith burst forth. It happened as they heard the written Word explained to them by the Living Word Himself.
    2. The Word is powerful, and it causes the light of faith to shine. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”.  Psalm 119:105
  3. Faith arises in times of prayer.
    1. Prayer is two-way communication. When God spoke to Paul, His word built faith in Paul’s heart:
      “He [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  2 Corinthians 12:8–9
    2. God says, “before they call, I will answer”.  Isaiah 65:24
    3. God also says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”  Jeremiah 33:3
    4. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”.  Romans 10:17
  4. Faith arises by means of a word of testimony or exhortation.
    1. Faith arose in the heart of the Samaritan woman because of an exhortation: “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”  John 4:29
    2. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  Colossians 3:16
    3. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:23–25
  5. Faith arises from dreams, visions and supernatural experiences.
    1. “And it shall come to pass in the last days”, says God, “That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.”  Acts 2:17
    2. When Paul was knocked down into the road to Damascus, the extraordinary experience birthed instantaneous faith in his heart. The violent, anti-faith Saul became the faith-filled Saul: “He, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’”  Acts 9:6
    3. Later, when Paul found himself on board a ship in a violent storm, it was the words of an angelic visitor that brought faith-grounded peace to Paul and his fellow travelers.  (see Acts 27:22–25)
  6. Faith arises because of the audible voice of God.
    1. A fresh word from God causes faith to surge up inside us. Consider the effect of the voice from heaven that declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:16–17
    2. Paul’s and Ananias’s experiences included each of them hearing the audible voice of God. (see Acts 9:4–6, 10)
    3. John heard this audible word: “‘I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty.’”  Revelation 1:8
    4. John heard also:
      “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. . . .And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”  Revelation 22:7, 12–13

Adding Faith to the Word

  1. We receive faith from the words of God, and we also base our faith entirely upon what He utters. We treat God’s written Word as fact, augmented by His rhema word, and we trust that circumstances will align themselves with the words of God.
    1. A woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years had heard about this man Jesus, who could work miracles. Based on the amazing reports of other people, she brought her own faith for her own situation. After fighting her way through the crowd to get close to Him, she merely touched his garment and she did receive her healing. Jesus turned to her, and said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well”.  Matthew 9:22
    2. Jewish tradition established ways for people to remind themselves of God’s words of instruction, so that they would not forget to put their faith in Him (see Numbers 15:38–41). Even though most of us do not wear tassels on our garments to remind us of God’s commandments, God’s desire remains the same; He wants us to remember His words of instruction so that we can put our faith in them.
  2. We look to Abraham, Isaac, and other heroes of the faith.
    1. “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
      By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. . . .
      By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said,  “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”  Hebrews 11:8–12, 17–19
    2. “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’
      But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ Then Abram said, ‘Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!’
      And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’
      And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. . . “.  Genesis 15:1–6
    3. “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”.  Romans 4:3
    4. “But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. . . .’
      Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’
      And he said, ‘Here I am.’
      Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'”  Genesis 21:12; 22:1–2

Faith Must Have Action or Expression

  1. “By faith, Noah moved in the fear of the Lord and built the ark.
    By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”  Hebrews 11:7
  2. Moses’ parents entrusted their infant son to another ark made of reeds, and released him to float down the river, thus saving him from death and positioning him for his destiny as the leader of the whole people of Israel.  (See Exodus 1:22–2:10; Hebrews 11:23.)
  3. The lame man was healed when Peter released his faith to reach down and pull him up:
    “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
    Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.”  Acts 3:1–8
  4. The woman with the hemorrhage released her faith when she touched Jesus’ garment:
    “Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.’
    Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My clothes?’
    But His disciples said to Him, ‘You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’
    And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.’”  Mark 5:25–34

The Importance of Faith

  1. Faith is the fruit of a heart that is open toward God. By faith, we are saved.
    1. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8
    2. “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us”  Romans 5:1, NLT
  2. “The just shall live by faith”  Romans 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38, both quoting Habakkuk 2:4
  3. We are able to keep the faith because we are “kept by faith.”
    1. “[you] are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation.”  1 Peter 1:5
    2. “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.”  1 John 5:4, NLT
  4. Enabled by our faith, we are able to defeat the evils of the world, including illness.
    1. For “the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”  James 5:15
    2. “Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”  Acts 3:16
    3. As Jesus told the ruler of the synagogue, whose daughter lay on her deathbed, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”  Mark 5:36. See  also Mark 5:21–24; 35 37–43
  5. Our faith pleases God more than anything.
    1. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6
    2. The angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is  with you; blessed are you among women!” . . . Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”  Luke 1:28, 38

Living by Faith

  1. Faith is not only the way to enter into a life in Christ, but it is also the only way we can continue living that amazing life. Living by faith affects our whole lifestyle, even the food we eat (see, for example, Romans 14). Every time we forget about faith and start relying on our own strength again, we find out the hard way that such a common lapse has consequences. In fact, “whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin.”  Romans 14:23, AMP
  2. The person who lives by faith has unlimited potential. “With God all things are possible,” Jesus said (Matthew 19:26; see also Mark 9:23). This does not mean that we can do whatever we please, but it does mean that as we seek to live and obey God, we can expect amazing results.

Faith Working Through Love

  1. Any human effort to obey a code of rules and regulations, to perform religious rituals or even to “be good,” minus faith, is wasted. Absolutely nothing we can do can earn us God’s approval—with one exception: putting our faith in Him and in the death and resurrection of His Son.
  2. Someone who is living by faith will be energized and guided by faith in Jesus. That believer will duplicate His merciful, wise, and loving actions.
  3. Good works have their place—as evidence of the indwelling Christ. Although we are saved not by good works but rather by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8–9; Titus 3:5), our saving faith results in a lifetime of good works (see Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:7–8). The purpose of God’s grace that led us to salvation was to redeem for Himself a people zealous for good works.  (see Titus 2:11–14)
  4. The only thing that counts is “faith expressing itself in love”.  Galatians 5:6, NLT

Keep it Simple

  1. Living by faith, a review: An easy-to-remember principle taken from Mark 11:22–24 is: “Pray until the promise; praise until the provision.”
    Step one is to pray until a promise from God’s Word becomes a “now,” or rhema word given by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit may highlight a certain verse of Scripture, or He may speak by means of a spiritual gift. (see 1 Corinthians 12:8–10)
    Step two is to enter into thanksgiving. The answer is on the way.
  2. Keep it simple. Jesus tells each one of His followers, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”  Luke 8:50


James W. Goll