Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Woman of Faith: Defining Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
The evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

I love that verse…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is frequently defined as a confidence or trust in something or someone, a belief that is not based on proof, or a belief in anything. Today I want to present the idea that faith is more than all of those things.

In John Piper’s sermon titled “What Faith Knows and Hopes For”, he defines faith as “a spiritual apprehending or perceiving or tasting or sensing of the beauty and sweetness, and preciousness, and goodness of what God promises—especially his own fellowship, and the enjoyment of it.” Faith is simply more than placing your trust in somebody or your belief in something. Faith is the reason you can place your trust in somebody or your belief in something.

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as the substance of things hoped for. The Greek word for substance is hupostatis and it literally means a setting under or a support or foundation. Think about that…Faith is the support for things hoped for. The Greek word for hoped for is elpizo which means to expect or confide but the root word of elpizo is elpis which means to anticipate. Faith is the support for things anticipated. You know that they are coming, but you haven’t seen them yet. It is the evidence that they are coming. It is the evidence or proof that they do exist. Faith is the foundation.

The Bible describes faith in so many different ways. Just look at some of these:
Ø  A  way of walking:
o   “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Ø  A means of protection:
o    “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16)
o   “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
Ø  A purifier or cleanser:
o   “God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8-9)
Ø  A door:
o   “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:27)
Ø  A way of life:
o   “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘the righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17)
o   “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because “The righteous will by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)
Ø  A mystery:
o   “Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience.” (1 Timothy 3:9)
Ø  A fruit
o   “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a)
Ø  A gift
o   “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—“ (Romans 2:8)
Ø  An assurance
o   “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)

Faith is so much more than simply trusting or having confidence in someone or something or even believing in something without evidence. Faith is what supports those things. It is the foundation. Faith provides the evidence. It is the reason we are able to trust. It is the reason we are able to believe. Without faith, we can’t believe, we can’t trust, and we can’t hope.

“Faith is a God-given ability to trust the future that God has promised you.” –John MacArthur

“Faith makes all things possible…
Love makes all things easy.”
~D L Moody


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