Martin Luther said, “God, our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.”
Paul says in 2 Cor 8:7,
“But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
How do we know we are living by faith? Does your life define the essence of faith? Perhaps your ‘faith’ is something that has become mere belief without action. Or you have faith that Christ can work through others, but not through you. Have you ever believed your sheer knowledge of Christ is enough in times of testing? For some who grew up in church, faith was something that was talked about, but never lived. Does your ‘faith’ allow your natural eyes to feed fear to your mind? 2 Cor 5:7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.”
Let’s look at what faith isn’t, and what faith truly is.
What Faith Is Not
Knowledge is not faith. Knowledge is believing with the intellect, but not with the heart. It is mentally assenting to the truth of the bible without personally grasping it by faith.
“You believe that there is one God, good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” -James 2:19
Hope is not faith. Hope is the climate that faith works in; it is the dream, desire, or goal that a person expects to receive. Hope will want the dream or goal, but faith will claim it.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” -Romans 15:4
Presumption is not faith. Presumptions are a faith killer, in faith. Presumptions accept all of the empirical evidence in the natural as permanent and true. This results in predetermining the outcome without ever engaging the elements. Presumptions place you back in the driver’s seat, and are followed by one of two actions:
- Acting over-confidently and going beyond proper limits.
“Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.” -Numbers 14:44-45
- Professing and accepting a vision of our future based on circumstantial evidence.
“But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.” -Numbers 13:31-32
What Faith Is
Faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” as it says in Hebrews 11:1. The word ‘assurance’ derives from the Greek word hupostasis (hoo-pastases) – this was a legal term referring to the transfer of property. Hupostasis was essentially a title deed in which you could lay claim to property. The word ‘conviction’ derives from the Greek word elengchos (ellen-khos), a forensic term referring to the prosecuter’s presentation of irrefutable evidence or proof in the courtroom. Faith is an assurance by God of our hopes and complete confidence in God’s word.
Faith is total trust in God’s character.
“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” -Numbers 14:24
Total trust in God will cost us the way we think, the way we feel, the way we observe, and the way we live. It amounts to the total sacrifice of self if we are to follow Christ faithfully.
Faith is agreeing and acting on God’s word even when it is contrary to our circumstances. In reference to Abraham Romans 4:19-21 says,
“Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
We don’t deny the obvious, we just don’t have to obey it. We can choose to hold on in faith and profess God’s word, even when it’s contrary to what we are up against.
Let’s leave with the example of Caleb in Numbers 13:28-30:
“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
The moment that we act on our faith is the moment we prove that we are in full agreement with the promises of God – and that is when the power of God is released.