Guest Post by Paul Laso
If someone were to pole 10 people on defining the term discipleship you will be hard-pressed to get the same definition. In fact, you might leave more confused. I have noticed, over the years, the same thing with the term faith. A word often spoken about in Christian circles everywhere. Faith, however, is a word that can be one of the most difficult to define for many Believers. Greg Gilbert affirms this when he says, “Faith is one of those words that’s been misused for so long that most people have no idea what it really means. Ask someone on the street to describe faith, and while you might get some respectful-sounding words, the heart of the matter will most likely be that faith is belief in the ridiculous against all evidence.” To be fair to those who are outside of the faith they shouldn’t have to provide an exact definition of faith (much less a Biblical one). We as Believers know far too well that our faith isn’t belief in the ridiculous, yet why do we struggle so much to define what is such a cornerstone to our faith?
So, for the record, “What is Faith?” And/or, “How would we/you define it?”
I was taught that, Faith is trusting in what God has said and acting upon it. Or as, Greg Gilbert has defined it: “Biblical Faith is reliance.”
These definitions, I think, fit well together when you think about them both. There are two key aspects within these definitions that will help join theology and practical insight for every Believer.
The first aspect deals with acknowledgment. Again, faith is trusting in what God has said and acting upon it. The question we must ask is, “Who are we trusting?” Of course, it’s God. Profound? Not exactly, but it is the foundation by which the rest of the definition makes sense. The person we are trusting is God. The person who is making the promises, declarations, conditions, and other statements within the Bible is God Himself. Where the rubber meets the road (so to speak) is whether or not we are going to take Him at His Word. In other words, as we read the Bible, we are reading what God is saying and then must ask ourselves – “Do we really believe what He just said?” This pushes one to inwardly examine how we actually respond to God. How we respond in this initial stage will determine how we will respond with our actions because they are inseparable.
Something to think about . . .
Is God perfect in His being? Of course! Is God reliable in everything that He has claimed to say and do? Absolutely! It is through the lens of His Perfect character that we are to take into consideration every word that He states. Never once has God missed the mark or failed to fulfill a promise that He has made! Faith, first of all, deals with how we view God. Moreover, faith confronts us with how much confidence we have in God. And finally, faith makes it very clear that it deals not with our fickle feelings or some “supernatural enlightenment”, but with very person of God. The question every Believer must ask is, “Do you trust God enough in order to rely on Him?”
The second aspect is application. Now, lets look at this from a practical perspective. Can we actually see the definition above in Scripture? Yes, in every way! Lets look at two men in the one passage that everyone turns to for an example of faith – Hebrews 11.
- Noah began to build an ark because God warned him about something he had not seen (e.g., Hebrews 11:7). So, Noah and his family worked and worked and worked until the project was complete. Why? Because he took God at His Word and trusted what He said – “Judgment was coming!”
- “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Why did Abraham obey God? Because he trusted that God would do what He said He would do – He trusted that he would receive an inheritance. So how did he being this journey? He walked!
With a simple cursory overview of the Old Testament, you will find that it is filled with examples like Noah and Abraham. Moses went back to Egypt because God told him that He would deliver His people. Joshua led the people of Israel with confidence because God told him, “I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5c). Jesus continued the same pattern during His life and ministry on Earth. Each of the Gospels speak of faith consistent with the Old Testament. Even the most widely known verse in John (John 3:16) speaks of trusting God in what He has said.
The greatest characteristic of faith in the New Testament is that we don’t place our faith in some feeling, or a sort of supernatural insight, but in the person and work of Jesus Christ! For salvation, the same is true: Do you trust in what Jesus has done? Do you have confidence in His finished work, resurrection, and promise of Eternal Life? Can you trust in what God has said about His Son? That is faith! The Christian life is no different – The New Testament is filled with commands, promises, and declarations from God that we, too, must with live out with faith!
As you teach those who you are discipling, teach them that faith is trusting in what God has said and acting upon it. Teach them the value of trusting in the character of God – to take God seriously on His every Word. Teach them that God is the most reliable source of truth they will ever encounter – so much so that they can bank their very lives on Him! Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Take a wild guess of who the author of Hebrews is connecting to the assurance of things which we hope for.
Can you do me a favor? If these ideas resonate with you, would you:
• REACT. Do something.
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