By: Gary Hutchens
People talk about faith in a number of different ways. On the surface, most of those references sound good. However, when you observe the lives of many of those same people, it becomes obvious that what they say is not consistent with what the scriptures teach true faith to be. There is a lot of confusion on the subject. In trying to come to a better understanding of what true faith is, we need to understand what true faith is not.
First, faith is not a feeling. Many people confuse faith with feelings. True faith will naturally produce certain felt emotions. The apostle Paul assured the Christians in Philippi, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phlp. 4:7). That feeling of peace that comes with being forgiven, redeemed, saved and in Christ is a result of faith. But that peace, by itself, is not faith; it is a result of faith.
Paul wrote about contentment that is a natural result of faith “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim. 6:6). But, again, the feeling of contentment at being saved is a result of faith, it is not faith itself. John spoke of assurance: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 Jn. 5:13). The same principle applies. That feeling of assurance is a result of true faith, but that feeling, by itself, is not faith.
Second, faith is not just believing in God and Christ. Many among the Jewish rulers “believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him...” (Jn. 12:42). They believed in Jesus, but they did follow Him. They did not have true faith. James stated that “Even the demons believe-and tremble!” (Jas. 2:19). The demons believe in God, without question, but they’re still demons.
Third, faith is not simply the statement, “I have faith.” True faith is consistently obedient. When Jesus sent the apostles on the Great Commission, He instructed them to teach the gospel, and “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk. 16:15-16). Saving faith couples belief with obedience.
Real faith is a lifestyle, it is expressed in the way I live my life all day long, day in and day out. It governs and guides my life. It is who I am and what I am, it is my character, my identity. James said, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jas. 2:18).
Fourth, faith is not a blind leap in the dark. True faith is based on substance and evidence of the truth of God’s existence and Christ being our Lord and Savior. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:10.) It develops through our learning and embracing the evidence laid out for us in God’s word: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17).
We need to examine our faith on a regular basis. We need to nurture it and always strive to develop our faith to grow deeper and stronger...
Gary L. Hutchens