Faith – What is it?
I have found myself reflecting on the nature of faith for much of this year and thought it might be useful to share some of my thoughts.
If you ask a range of people what faith is, they would probably start at belief and have little to say after that. For the Christian, belief is only one aspect of faith. In the New Testament book of James, the point is made that ‘demons believe’, but there is no suggestion that they have faith in God.
The book of Hebrews defines faith as ‘confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’. Here we see belief in confidence, but we also see a response of assurance to the initial belief. That assurance comes from knowing and understanding the purposes of God and an inner awareness that we can put our trust in him.
But where does faith come from? The apostle Paul writes in two places (Ephesians and 1 Corinthians) that faith itself is a gift of God. He also writes in Romans 12 that God assigns a measure of faith to each of us and that we should conduct our life according to that measure. It seems to me that the purpose of these passages is to draw our minds to God rather that beat ourselves up on our own perceived failings in the area of faith.
What is the impact of faith in our life? In the parable of the Talents of Gold, Jesus teaches us that when God gives us a gift he expects us to use it wisely. In the Book of James, the writer makes it clear that you can observe the reality of his faith through what he does and how he lives his life. In Romans 12 Paul makes clear that faith is the basis of our exercising our gifts within the church. So, if faith is at work in us then there is a discernible impact in our lives.
What does this impact or outworking of Faith look like? From the context of the passages referenced above we have to look for involvement with fellow Christians. We have to look for growth and development in our own lives and in our understanding of God. We also have too look for Faith’s two close companions, Hope and Love.