What is Faith?

26 Feb

Scripture declares that there is no  righteousness (right relationship) or justification (“legal” innocence) before God apart from faith, as shown in the scriptures below.  If this is the case, then we better understand what faith is.  In my last post, I wrote that faith is a “divine persuasion” or “spiritual sight.”  I think the concept deserves a fuller examination.  (Note: As I’ve written this post, I’ve realized it was arrogant of me to assume I could completely explain this divine concept in ~900 words.  Maybe there will be a part 2 sometime).

  • (Galatians 2:16): “…nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of Law but through the faith of Christ Jesus…”

The Greek word for “faith” is pistis, which basically means “a persuasion.”  This thing we call faith is, in scripture, a spiritual substance, a gift that only comes from God Himself:

  • (1 Corinthians 12: 7,9):  But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the spirit…to another faith by the same spirit…” 
  • (Galatians 5:22) “And the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith…”
  • (Ephesians 2:8) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”
  • (Romans 12:3) “…think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

When scripture says we are to have faith “in” Jesus Christ, as it does in several places, the literal translation is often “the faith of” Jesus Christ or God the Father.  This shows faith is not something that one owns and can use as they wish.  Faith “of” something indicates this faith originates with the object of faith and is a part of that person or thing – in this case, God.  Scripture confirms this.

In my opinion, two of the most enlightening Biblical scriptures that deal with what faith actually is are Hebrews 11:1 and Romans 10:17.

  • (Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Here’s this verse in the “Amplified” version: (Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
  • (Romans 10:17) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

Faith comes, Romans 10:17 says, when a person HEARS (not reads) the “Word of Christ,” or in other translations, the “Word of God.”  This “word” isn’t the Bible, it’s God’s spiritual voice, His divine expression.  When this expression is truly heard, faith is born.

In Hebrews 11:1, the word for “substance” of things hoped for is hupostasis.  “Hupo” means “under,” and “stasis” means “to stand.”  It refers to a foundation, that which “stands under” and supports something.  In Hebrews 11:1, faith is the foundation that supports and guarantees that which we hope for, as well as the conviction of the reality of things we can’t sense by our human faculties.  A more thorough look at this concept can be found at

Combining these two verses with what we know, one could say: “Faith is a seeing and conviction of things which can’t be perceived with human senses.  Faith is the underlying foundation and assurance of things hoped for.  It is given by God and comes from hearing God’s voice.  This means faith is essentially a spiritual dynamic, because the spirit of man is the part beneath the human senses and mind, and faith is a spiritual gift from God, who is Himself a spirit and can only be known in spirit (John 4:24) “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 17:17): “Sanctify them through the truth; your (Father) word is truth.”

This is partly why I’ve said faith is “spiritual sight.”  It’s a God-given gift, placed deep in one’s spirit, an assurance of things we hope for (which are real) and conviction of the reality of things that we don’t perceive with our human senses.  It is deep within us, beneath the soulish realm of our feelings and human senses and logic.  It resides within our spirit.  This is why we can believe and be assured of something that we can’t really understand or explain logically.  By faith, we “see” them spiritually.

This is how, as Paul said, we can “…walk by faith, not by sight.” To do this is to base one’s life and behavior by the spiritual perception and assurance God has given by His word to us, not by the “sight” of our natural human faculties such as our mind.  So we must hear God’s voice – that’s the key to just about everything in the life of a disciple, just as it was in Jesus’ life (John 5:9, 12:49-50).  Please remember, faith comes not by reading, but by HEARING.

  • (John 18:37) Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 
  • (John 10:27) My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…”
  • (John 6:63 NKJV)  “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

One last scripture I want to look at is Romans 14:23, which declares “…whatever is not from faith is sin.”  If faith is a God-given gift of assurance, conviction, divine persuasion or spiritual sight of spiritual reality which we can’t perceive naturally, then to do something contrary to or apart from this God-given divine persuasion and perception of spiritual reality, is sin.  To sin is to “miss the mark.”  The “mark” we are aiming for is establishing God’s kingdom on earth – knowing and doing His will.  So even things that seem “good,” if not done from faith (spiritual perception and sight), are sin, because God is no part of them.

May God bless you.  I hope this will help you to walk by faith and follow in Jesus’ footsteps in knowing the Father and establishing His Kingdom.

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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


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