Faith is an important subject for the Christian walk. We know that we are saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8), but we also see that we must walk by faith on a daily basis: “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith is so important to God that He says that we cannot please Him without it (see Hebrews 11:6). God will often place us in situations where we are required to exercise faith; this is the way He wants us to live, totally dependent upon Him.
Since faith is so important to the Christian life, it is important to define what it is–and what it isn’t.
Many people see faith as a blind step in the dark, but this is not the case. Neither is faith merely wishful thinking, or baseless optimism. So…what is faith? Let’s look at a few aspects of this important subject.
Faith is what brings us into a relationship with God in the first place, but it is the relationship with God that then becomes the foundation of a true walk of faith. In other words, the more we know God the more we learn to trust Him and walk by faith. The Apostle Paul once said, “I know whom I have believed…” (2 Timothy 1:12). It is not just about what you believe, but Whom you believe.
Outside of the context of an intimate relationship with God, faith becomes reduced to a mere formula. Faith is not a formula; it is not something you can conjure up with positive thinking or correct affirmations. Faith is not magic; it is based on a real relationship with the living God. Though thinking and speaking the right things is important, let’s not forget that this must be in the context of a true relationship with the Lord; this is where genuine faith will arise.
Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” You see, faith is the byproduct of hearing the Word of God. The Word of God is what ignites genuine faith in our hearts. When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water, he did it at the word of Jesus; this gave him the faith to step out onto the water.
When Elijah was faced with a drought, the word of the Lord came to him, telling him to go to a certain brook where he could drink water. The Lord also told him that the ravens would feed him. Elijah obeyed the word of the Lord, and sure enough ravens brought him food twice a day (see 1 Kings 17:2-6). It was the clear Word of God that gave Elijah faith to know that he would be fed by the ravens.
Outside of the Word of God, faith becomes presumption. There can be a fine line between genuine faith and foolish presumption. Had Elijah not heard God speak that he would be supernaturally fed by ravens, it would have been presumptuous for him to believe so. Had Peter not heard Jesus beckon him to come onto the water, it would have been presumption as well.
Faith is not simply a tool to use in order to get what you want from God. No, it is actually birthed out of hearing His voice (both through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit) and responding to what He says. Faith has substance to it; the substance of the Word of God.
If we want to grow in faith–faith that moves mountains and sustains our walk with God–we must grow in our relationship with God. We must spend time in His Word and listen for His voice. And we must step out when He speaks!
I hope this little study is helpful to you. Make sure to check out my follow up post, where I continue this discussion on faith, and talk about sustaining faith through difficulty by keeping our eyes on Jesus.
*You also might like this related sermon:
Walking on Water: