Chapter 8: Fundamentals of Faith

In the previous chapter, we saw that faith is required for salvation. In this chapter, we will define faith. We will understand how to distinguish between genuine faith and counterfeit faith. Finally, we will study how we can increase our faith.

What is faith?

Since faith is a requirement for salvation it is essential to understand what faith is. That is what we will do in this section.

Let us first look at Mt 9:28-29.

Mt 9:28-29 When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "It shall be done to you according to your faith."

A careful reading of Mt 9:28-29 tells us that faith is belief. This is because Jesus asks, "Do you believe?" Then, the blind men respond, "Yes." Then, Jesus replies, "It shall be done to you according to your faith." By this we see that Jesus associated belief with faith.

Heb 11:1 adds to this definition.

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of {things} hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

To be ‘convicted of things not seen’ is to believe something to be true without actual proof of its truth. So we can say that to have faith is to believe something to be true without actual proof of its truth.

So we see that faith is more than mere belief. All faith is belief, but not all belief is faith. Believing that one plus one equals two is not faith. It is not faith because ‘one plus one equals two’ can be proved. That is, it can be ‘seen’. But believing that Christ will come again is faith. It is faith because such a thing cannot be proved. The Second Coming of Christ is not ‘seen.’ This is why Heb 11:1 tells us that faith is the conviction of things not seen.

It is not difficult to believe something that can be proved, but it is difficult to believe something that cannot be proved. It is difficult to believe something that was not seen with one’s own eyes. Such belief requires faith. That is why, in 1 Pet 1:8-9, Peter says that it is when we love Him and believe Him, even though we have not seen Him, that we obtain the salvation of our souls.

It is possible to have different amounts of faith. If a normal adult tells you that he can jump three feet high you need little faith to believe him. However, if he tells you that he can jump ten feet high then you need a lot of faith to believe him.

It is also possible to grow in faith. Suppose, each time this adult told you that he could jump a certain height, he did it. Let’s say that he did it for three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine feet. Let’s also say that each time he said it you believed him (before he jumped). That indicates that your faith in him grew. That is, you believed that he could do more than before.

A faithful person is someone who tells the truth. He is someone who is worthy of faith. He is someone who will do what he promises to do. This is seen from 1 Thess 5:24.

1 Thess 5:24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

This is also why the writer to the Hebrews tells them to hold fast to their hope.

Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

God is a person who is faithful forever (Deut 7:9; Ps 146:6).

A faithless person is a person who does not have faith. A faithless person is a person who does not believe something that cannot be proved. A person who does not believe something that can be proved is not faithless but irrational.

Having faith is different from trusting. To trust someone is to believe that that person will not hurt you even though he could. Trusting necessarily involves being willing to put yourself in a vulnerable position. For example, you can trust someone with information that could be used against you.

Trust may or may not be based on proof. Therefore, trust may or may not require faith. You can trust a brake to stop a car because you have seen it stop a car before. No faith is required here. But faith is required at the first time you share confidential information about yourself to a friend. That is, the first time you trust a friend you have to exercise faith. Faith is required in this example because you have no proof that the friend will not betray you.

It is possible to have different amounts of trust too. If an adult tells you that he can jump across a three feet long pit of burning coals while carrying you, and you allow him to do it, then you exercised some trust in him. However, if he tells you that he can do the same across a ten feet long pit of burning coals then you need a lot more trust to allow him to do it.

It is also possible to grow in trust. Suppose, each time this adult told you that he could jump across a pit of burning coals while carrying you, he did it. Let’s say that he did it for three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine feet. Let’s also say that each time he said it you trusted him to carry you. That indicates that your trust in him grew. That is, you trusted him even as the danger to you increased.

Hope is an eager expectation about the future. You say that you hope for something if you want it to happen at some point in the future. Hope becomes faith if you are also sure that it will happen even though you cannot prove it. That is what Heb 11:1 means when it says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for.





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