“…the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1: 17).
Faith is the very essence of the Christian life. According to Hebrews 11, faith is the means by which we can understand the unexplainable. It is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Furthermore, we learn without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). But, where does this faith come from? Why do we believe? And, what do we do with this belief?
Where does faith come from?
“For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Simply put, faith comes directly from God. It is a gift not earned by a good deed or kind word, but rather it is something given to us solely through the work of Christ.
If faith was something we could earn, we wouldn’t need to glory in the work of Christ but would be able to boast in ourselves (Eph. 2:9). But all boasting of that sort is excluded. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Rom. 3:25-28).
Our saving faith, this precious gift from God, comes to us by hearing, and this hearing comes by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). One may receive faith through the reading of the Holy Scriptures, while others may receive it through hearing a sermon teaching the gospel. Faith is not the result of the reader’s understanding or the speaker’s eloquence/his sound theology-faith is imparted through the good news about Christ, the means God has chosen.
Why do we believe?
A strong misconception that surrounds the concept of the Christian’s belief is that it is one of “blind faith”. But, this cannot be true! Belief is not promoted in Scripture as irrational but rather as a strongly warranted confidence. It is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). The phrase “hoped for” does not denote wishful thinking as in “I hope the weather is nice tomorrow.” Instead, the Greek word elpizō indicates a fully confident expectation: the confidence you have when you have reason to believe something. There are many reasons upon which we can build this confidence.
- “…in which it was impossible for God to lie”(Heb. 6:18). We can have full confidence in the words of God because He cannot lie-it is against His very nature. This aspect of our Maker’s character separates Him from all other creatures. God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Num. 23:19). The word of man has failed time and time again but the Word of God remains forever (1 Pet. 1:25).
- “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psa. 19:1). All creation bears witness to the verity of a Creator. The evidence all around us points to God’s existence. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20). In fact, according to this passage, we have been given so much proof that we are without excuse to not believe.
- “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit…” (1 Cor. 2:10) Finally, we believe because God has opened our eyes and revealed to us the truths of His person. The secrets of God’s wisdom cannot be known by man’s wisdom alone. We can have full confidence in the veracity of the words of God and the evidence of creation because our eyes have been opened to behold wondrous things.
What do we do with this belief?
After noting where faith comes from and the reasons we believe, the question arises, what do we do with this belief?
- “I will show thee my faith by my works” (Jam. 2:18). As believers, our faith is not to be stagnant or private. We are told in James 2:27 that “faith without works is dead”. Faith will compel us to live differently, to follow Christ’s perfect example of humility, compassion, and obedience. Although we are justified by faith alone, these works prove to others our belief in the work of Christ.
- “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). As Christians, we encounter questions and challenges about the validity of our beliefs. We are admonished to be able to give an answer to each of these inquiries about our faith. It is our responsibility to be able to support our beliefs. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Tim. 2:15)
In conclusion, faith is a wonderful gift, one that we have received through the engrafted Word of God. It is not something we earn or achieve, but rather something we obtain through grace. We have confidence that is the anchor of our soul because the words of our Savior are true, creation declares His glory, and our eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit. May we ever live in light of this belief as we seek to know God’s Word and make Him known.
Written by NBB Alumna: Rachel Sheppard