What Is The Biblical Definition Of Faith?
The best way to define any biblical term is to do it straight from the pages of scripture itself. Therefore, we will define biblical faith by looking at the main Bible verses where it is described and explained. I will start in the book of Romans where Paul describes the faith of Abraham using a story from the Old Testament book of Genesis and combine that with a famous passage from the book of Hebrews.
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4: 20 – 21 [ESV]
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1 [ESV]
Simply put - biblical faith is believing that God can and will fulfill His promises, even when we can’t see any evidence that those promises are currently being fulfilled.
With such a definition in hand, the next obvious question is “what are the promises that God has (and has not) made”?
God’s main promises, the primary things in which Christians are called to have faith are that:
-Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay for all sins and nothing needs to be added to it by us (Colossians 2: 13 – 14 & Hebrews 10: 12 – 14)
-Jesus was raised to life after being dead (Acts 2: 24 – 32)
-God rewards those who believe in Him and seek Him (Hebrews 11: 6)
-The Bible is God’s word given by Him directly to man (II Timothy 3: 16 & II Peter 1: 19 – 21)
-Jesus is coming back a second time to judge the earth and claim His own (Acts 17: 30 – 31 & II Timothy 4: 8)
A saving faith always involves repentance (a changing of our minds about sin and a turning back toward God and His ways in such a fashion that our actions are impacted) and baptism along with the beliefs that Jesus is the Christ who died for our sins and rose from the dead (Luke 24: 45 – 47, Acts 2: 36 – 39 & James 2: 17 – 19). A genuine faith will also understand that Jesus is the only way we can obtain salvation (John 14: 6 & Acts 4: 12)
Too many times, however, we add to the list of things in which we should have faith, even though God has made no explicit promise concerning them. For example, church board members often throw the accusation at each other that they “don’t have enough faith” because they are unwilling to approve a foolish budget request. Remember, God has made no specific promise to any individual church that they can spend freely and He will continue to provide them money. Others believe that they should be receiving earthly blessings if they are an obedient or faithful or prayerful Christian. But again, God has not made any such promise to us (in fact, Jesus states that we will likely suffer at some point for our faith not the opposite). We must be careful not to place on God promises that He has never stated.
And finally, why would we have faith in the first place? The answer is we have faith because of God’s perfect track record! Every prediction made in the Bible came true exactly as predicted. God has always been faithful to fulfill His promises. Every explanation offered in the Bible about how nature works has ultimately been borne out by science.
Is it realistic for me to have a level of faith that if I fly on an airplane, it will reach its destination safely? It is because thousands of flights take off and land every day with very few accidents. Is it realistic for me to have faith in the outstanding promises God puts forth in the Bible? It is because all of the previous promises (not just most of them as it is with plane safety) God has made have been perfectly fulfilled. Therefore, I can have faith that God can and will fulfill His remaining promises in the future, even though I can’t detect that any of them are in the process of being fulfilled at the moment.
Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.