“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” — Hebrews 11:1-3
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” — Hebrews 11:6
There is probably no single word in the English language more hostly contested and more controversial in today’s cultural atmosphere than faith. What is faith? What does faith really mean? How does faith work? Is faith stupid or useless? Does it trump facts and evidence? Is it divorced from everyday reality? Does it define reality?
These and other questions I hope to delve into in-depth on this blog. I’ve posted a few thoughts on the subject already (and will be going through the archives to add “faith” as a tag to relevant posts), and there is plenty more to ponder and discuss. But I want to explain here the three statements I use as my tag line: faith acts, faith sees results, faith is real.
Disclaimer: when I’m talking about faith here, I’m talking about faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — i.e., the One True Living God whose Word is contained within the Christian Bible. In a certain sense, I’m also talking about faith in Jesus Christ in particular.
1. Faith acts.
When I have faith in God, when I know that He’s real and that His Word is real and that He loves me with an everlasting love, when I believe with every fiber of my being that His plans for me are for good and not for evil, when I have every reason to trust Him with my needs, my desires, my passions, my possessions, my time, my energy, my family, my livelihood, and my very life itself — when I truly put my faith in God, then I will act accordingly. I’ll step out in that faith. I’ll make decisions based not on my own impulses or my own fears, but each and every day I’ll strive to live in accordance with the revelation God has given me via the power of the Holy Spirit and of Scripture. The Apostle James says faith without works is dead. If my faith does not produce works — if my faith does not act — then my faith is nothing. Faith, living faith, acts.
2. Faith sees results.
If I act accordingly to my faith, then I must believe that God will honor that faith and will act on my behalf. This is the authority that was bought and paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead and ascension into Heaven. When God says to pray for the sick and they will recover, then I must not only have the faith to pray for the sick but I must have the faith to expect to see only one result: the sick are made well. When God says to avoid temptation and seek holiness, I must not only have the faith to believe that I am empowered by His Spirit to resist temptation and be made holy, but I must expect to see only one result: temptation is resisted and holiness is a hallmark of my life.
For far too long have we accepted hypocrisy and excuses in the Christian Church. By all means should we love and forgive those who sin, and we should not be surprised if we occasionally fall into sin and must repent. But in order to walk the path that Jesus walked, we MUST surrender our lives to Him and give Him complete control over our thoughts and our actions. My faith can’t just be an interesting idea, but it must work in my life so that I see the results of that faith played out every day by God’s miracle-working power. Faith, living faith, sees results.
3. Faith is real.
Faith is not, as some have claimed, belief in something for which there is no evidence. That is a false notion of faith. Faith is really a matter of trust, and it is trust not in an idea, but in a person. For those with truly open minds, there is ample evidence that the universe and life on earth was created by an immensely powerful entity, and we can ascertain certain characteristics of this super-personality simply by observing the nature of the world. Without too much effort, we can also acknowledge that it seems the ideal state of things has been corrupted and maligned somehow to produce a world marred by evil, decay, and death. But this general knowledge of a First Cause and the basic existence of good and evil does not tell us a great deal. It doesn’t produce a direction for the future, it doesn’t produce a spiritual experience of supernatural revelation and mystery, and it probably doesn’t do much to transform our lives.
That’s why we need faith. Faith is the fundamental building block of the love relationship between God and man. When I have faith that God is exactly who He says He is, when I trust in His Word and obey His commandments, when I believe in Jesus Christ as God’s only Begotten Son who has saved me from destruction and has given me the free gift of eternal life, when I extol the beauty and the virtues of the Kingdom of Heaven, and when I reach out to my fellow man out of love for God’s creatures, then I walk a spiritual path of continual enlightenment and supernatural revelation that every day raises my awareness of heavenly things and my intimacy with the Creator of the universe.
I don’t believe in God in spite of the evidence. I don’t have faith in Jesus without reason. My faith in God and in what Jesus has done for me is based on the reality of what Jesus really has done for me and who God has revealed Himself to be in my life. I am not the man I once was. I am being changed little by little, every day, to be more and more like Jesus. And when I walk in a spirit of faith, I see the handiwork of God everywhere I look. In the midst of sorrow, suffering, bondage, and all manner of evil things, I know that God is there and that He has not abandoned the world to its fiery fate.
Faith, living faith, is real. And it’s more real to me than anything else — at least it should be. It’s sometimes not, because I’m just a human who still struggles with fear and a lack of faith and my own failings and inhibitions. But I know what the goal is, and I press hard towards the finish line.
Nothing I say here I want to convey to you in a prideful and boastful manner. Faith itself is a gift from God, and I’ve done nothing whatsoever to warrant the relationship I’m so blessed to have with my Maker. My only desire is to see His Name proclaimed to all the nations. I pray that my journey of faith encourages you to embark on your own journey of seeking and discovering the mystery of God’s love and salvation for mankind. Please let me know how it goes!
September 22, 2007