The Definition of Faith Part 1
Dear Visionary Leader:
We live in an age where we have a lot of people who are called music stars and movie stars. We have a lot of people who are called idols: Sports idols and music idols. In my humble opinion, we have too many stars and idols and not enough heroes. During this series Walking In The Hall of Fame Of Faith, I have chosen to write about many of the greatest Bible heroes.
In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, we will walk and talk with the visionary giants of faith who touched God and transformed their world. Hebrews chapter eleven is set up by Hebrews chapter ten.
In Hebrews 10:38, we read, “Now the just shall live by faith.” This is a quotation from the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was perplexed. He lived in a day of violence, a day of degradation, apostasy, and danger. He bombarded heaven, pleading God to give him an answer. He wanted God to explain things so he could get along in life as it was day by day. God said, “Habakkuk, you couldn’t understand if I told you what I’m up to. You think I’m not working? I am working, and Habakkuk, here is your responsibility: you are to live in this uncertain age by faith.”
How are we to live? We do not live by explanations; we live by faith. Faith is the spiritual steel and concrete of our lives. “But the just shall live by faith…”. This is the only way to live.
As a matter of fact, this Scripture is quoted three times in the Word of God. I wonder if God is trying to tell us something. I know He is! “The just shall live by faith.”
You have some problems and I have some problems. There’s not a problem that we have that does not relate itself someway to faith as the answer. For example, there is worry. All of us at some point worry. I think there is almost a pandemic in our society of worry. Why do we worry? Lack of faith. Worry is a mild form of atheism. Worry is a way of saying, God, this problem is too big for You. Or, if there’s a God at all, You’re not able to handle it. Worry is just faith turned inside out. If you’re prone to worry, you need to strengthen your faith.
May I tell you what faith is? Faith is my acceptance of God’s acceptance of me. God receives us not because of our own goodness, but because we come to Him in faith. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you have trouble obeying the Word of God? Do you want me to tell you why you don’t obey the Word of God? You don’t believe it. Let me give you an example. The Bible says, “Bring all the tithe into the storehouse and prove Me now with, herewith sayeth the Lord of hosts, if I’ll not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing there not be room enough to receive it.” There’s not a mother’s child in this building that doesn’t want the heavens opened above him and God pouring out such blessings he can’t even contain them all. All of us want that, but not all of us tithe. Why? Because we don’t believe that promise.
The Definition of Faith Continues In Visionary Coaching
Have you ever passed a wall and it has a sign on it that says, “wet paint – don’t touch”. What do you do? Touch it. Why? You just don’t believe the sign. Why do we disobey? Because we do not believe the Word of God.
In Hebrews Chapter 11, we learn:
The Present Explanation Of Faith (Heb. 11:1-2)
The key of faith is the master key that opens all of the doors in the house of salvation. Faith is the only way to live. “The just shall live by faith.” God describes faith in these verses. In Hebrews 11:1-2, we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.”
I think it is very important we understand what faith is not before we learn what faith is. Faith is not blind superstition. I’m amazed not only at what people won’t believe, but what they will believe.
Faith is not positive thinking or feeling of optimism. I like to be around positive thinkers. I like to be around optimists. I don’t like to drive and get behind a person who thinks before they get there the light’s going to turn red. By the time they do, it has.
Do you ever get behind those kinds of people? I don’t like to be around negative people. I know people who brighten up a room by leaving it. I like to be around optimistic people. Faith and optimism may be in some way tangential, but they’re not the same.
Faith is not a leap in the dark. To the contrary, it is stepping into the light. Faith is not faith in faith. The Bible says, “have faith in God.” It doesn’t say have faith in faith. Sometimes people will tell you, just believe. Believing will not make it so.
What IS FAITH? The Hebrew writer, tells us here that faith has three elements.
A.The Certainty Required
First, it is a confidence that rests in hope. Look at it, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…”. Why did I call it confidence? The New American Standard, for example, gives it as “confidence”. This word is akin to substance and substance is an acceptable translation. It means assurance.
Substance means a confident expectation. Faith is the confident expectation that what you hope for and what is unseen-you already have. Faith is not simply hoping for something. Faith says, “I have it already.”
The term for “confidence” was used in the language for a title deed. If you had a piece of property or an inheritance that you had not yet seen, but you had the deed, you would have the assurance of that which you have not yet seen, but you want to have it. Your hope is the unseen. Faith is a confidence. It is not a will of the wisp sort of a thing. It is substance. “Sub-stand,” something beneath that we stand on. We’re not walking around on eggshells and Jell-O. Faith is a substance or confidence.
Furthermore, it is the confidence that rests in hope. The word “hope”, doesn’t mean perhaps. Nor does it even mean “wish” or “desire.”
The word “hope” in the Bible means rock ribbed assurance based on divine revelation. For example, the second coming of Jesus is called the what? The “blessed hope.” Is this a “maybe hope?” No! It is rock ribbed assurance based on the promises of the Word of God.
Now faith, therefore, is the title deed, the confidence that what God has said is true and God will perform it. There is no legitimate faith without hope. And there is no legitimate hope without faith. Faith and hope cannot be separated. Faith is the substance of things hoped for.
B. The Conviction Realized
Secondly, now think not only of confidence, but conviction. Faith is a conviction that sees the invisible. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. The word “evidence” may remind us about a detective looking around for evidence. Yet, this word “evidence” literally means a conviction. Jesus Christ used this same word, when He challenged those who were challenging Him when He said, “which of you convicts Me of sin?” Who can convict Me of sin? Of course, no one could. The term has the idea of conviction.
What does it mean if you have faith in your heart with a conviction of something that you’ve not yet seen. It is an absolutely confidence that leads to a conviction even though you’ve not yet seen it. You don’t have to see it for it to be real.
There is an invisible world. That invisible world is electronically all around us right now. There are movies, newscasts, internet, and music in the air, but we are not tuned it all the time. There is an invisible world all around us.
In Colossians 1:16, we read, “For by Him…,” by Jesus, “… were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible.” We must never make the mistake of thinking that everything that is real is communicated to us by the five senses. We need to have a sixth sense. There is another world. There is an invisible world.
Now what does faith do? Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen. You can treat the future as present, and you can treat the invisible as seen by faith. It’s the only way to live. We are to live by faith!
C. The Communication Received
The third element of faith is a communication that comes from heaven. In Hebrews 11:2, we read, “For by it …”., that is by faith, “… the elders received a good report.”
“Good report,” doesn’t mean they made straight A’s. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t talk about what they did at all. It talks about what happened to them. They received a good report. God spoke to them out of heaven. It doesn’t deal with their reputation. The good report means that they heard from heaven. It is not their reputation but God’s revelation that is spoken of here. They were conscience of God testifying to them.
When we put confidence, conviction and communication together, we have something in our heart, that is glorious and wonderful, and it is called faith. This is the only way to live. We live by faith.
When you put these things together, then we should understand that faith should not be:
1. Altered by Appearances.
In Hebrews 11:1, we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” When you live by faith, you live above “see level.” We live above the level of what you can see. We live in a world that says, seeing is believing. The Bible says, believing is seeing.
In John 20: 29, we read, “Jesus says unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” Thomas examined the nail prints in Jesus’ hand, and the wound in His side. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.”
In I Peter 1:8, speaking of Jesus, we read, “Whom having not seen, ye loved.” By faith we see the invisible; faith should not be altered by appearances. We must not allow any so called appearance make a lie out of the Word of God in your heart and your mind.
2. Fettered By Feelings
Faith is confidence that goes beyond emotions. Our emotions are the shallowest part of your nature. Faith is the deepest work of God and God doesn’t do the deepest work in the shallowest part. Don’t live your life under the tyranny of emotions and feelings. Now it feels good to feel good. And there’s nothing wrong with feeling good. Yet, feelings are fickle. Sometimes you wake up with a dull headache. Sometimes things happen and we get all bent out of shape because of feelings.
Sometimes this happens to preachers.When I am speaking, I always try to look like I’m having a good time. However, there are times I don’t feel good at all. Maybe, I didn’t get any sleep last night. Maybe, I got an upset stomach. Maybe I’ve got a dull headache and go to the pulpit to preach.
There are times we think we are going to have a good service and you get your foot in a lard bucket and can’t get it out while you’re preaching. We try to say something and we get our tang all tongulled up. The ushers won’t ush. The choir or praise team sounds like a couple of calves dying in a hail storm.
When the preacher is in that kind of nightmare situation, he/she may think God is light years from the sanctuary. Then, heaven comes down. Your emotions had nothing to do with it. Faith is not altered by appearances. Faith is not fettered by our feelings.
3. LIMITED BY LOGIC
Faith is not contrary to logic, but faith just goes beyond logic.
If I see a ditch that I am walking toward step by step, there will come a point that I must leap over it. The ‘step by step’ are logical steps in the right direction. Then, I come to a place where logic ends. I need to get over to the other side of the ditch. I need to take a leap of faith. I will cross this ditch by taking a leap of faith. Faith is rooted in logic. Yet, faith goes beyond logic. Faith becomes its own best logic.
When Jesus was with the people who were following Him, they became tired and hungry. He called Philip and said, “Philip, how are we going to feed these people? There are 5,000 there. How are we going to feed them?”
Philip got out his pocket calculator, and said, “Well, it would take a laboring man a year’s wages to feed these.” Technically, Philip was correct. However, any good atheist could have done the same thing. When Jesus asked Philip, “How we going to feed these people.” He wasn’t asking for information because the Bible says He knew what He would do. He was just wanted Philip to learn something about a miracle.
There was a little boy there with a lunch and fed the whole multitude with that a couple of fish and five loaves. If you’re adding up an equation, you’re never going to get the right answer if you leave out one of the elements. Philip left out God. He figured his numbers without God. Philip was correct logically, but faith is not limited by logic.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking