Today the most often preached subjects are Grace and Faith, Grace being what God does and Faith as what Man is supposed to have and exercise. But these definitions take on many and varied forms, such as faith as work, faith as belief, faith as endurance, faith as hope.
As always let the Bible itself define faith. This definition excludes many believers who say they have faith and do not. Our faith begins with believing something someone says. When I was in China one school teacher decided to become a Christian because, as he said, I came to China on my own dime not expecting any income from the Chinese in order to serve God. In the 8 years following he has learned about God on his own and now his whole family is believers. But believing someone else is just the start. We’ll learn eventually to believe God which is better.
There is a host of ideas, principles and practices that lead us to increased levels of believing. Before I knew God I had no idea God could heal anyone, although I had been told that. Resting your faith on someone else’s experience or doctrine is a start but no finish. I’ve heard Christians say, “I know I am saved because I was baptized.” But there is no salvation in baptism. Do they really know what they are saying, or what they are believing?
Abraham was the Father of the Faithful so his faith becomes the standard. In Hebrews we read faith defined:
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
So our first evidence of faith is belief that God (not evolution) produced the universe we live in. It is not an optional idea; it is the first evidence of faith.
Perhaps if you have had trouble believing God’s promises you have been struggling to reject notions of a naturally produced universe? However that might happen no one can define. A self-creating universe is nonsense-thinking which cannot be proven or replicated. And believing is work, hard work.
AMP John 6:29 Jesus answered, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.”
When we say faith without works is dead, this is what we are talking about. Faith is the hard work of believing in God’s words, and those of Jesus, and of course additionally believing his prophets.
To believe is an active verb, it’s origin being the concept to “live by” or real life action. Belief is not passive. It does not say, “If God wants this to happen, He’ll do it.” Of course He will, but that is not faith. That is just a valid opinion.
Somewhere I heard that it is not Saint Peter who guards the pearly gates to heaven, but Abraham, the father of the faithful, That makes sense. God told Abraham is would be the Father of faithful billions. And Abraham, who had no one to tell him about God, believed. His faith was so much greater than ours. He becomes the standard for belief.
Now you say, I don’t have any faith. Not so. Every man is given a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) It is not very large but it is enough faith for you to develop and grow. Select one thing to believe from His word, and then pursue it. It may take some time; you are to believe the word not the immediate appearance of the word. Too many people give up on God because there is delay. I think of a friend who was promised a Christian husband. He showed up when she was 35, and she had nearly given up.
Poor Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah and then waited 600 years to see Him arrive. In the meantime Isaiah was treated very badly, condemned and persecuted. The truth for some may be on the other side of the grave. But Isaiah is the most often quoted Old Testament book.
When Daniel was in the den of starving lions he did not look at the problem but looked up to God. Faith is for now, and we believe now, but the end of faith, its realization may be long in the future.