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Starting Simple: What Does it Mean to “Have Faith”?
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Faith is perhaps the most talked about word from the Bible, yet most people don’t understand it. We’ve all heard that first sentence, but I’m guessing many of us don’t have the second sentence memorized.
It’s important because it provides CONTEXT. And context is important.
You’ve also no doubt heard the other most popular verse about faith:
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of Christ.
Uh… What? What does that mean?
Let’s take what we just read and let it add further context to the first one. What is faith? It is being sure of what we hope for and it is what we are certain of yet do not see. How do we get faith? Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. And this is what the ancients were commended for.
Case Study: The Life of Abraham
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
So Abram is approached by a voice. For all we know, he heard a voice and nothing more. This voice made him promises based on his obedience. And he was told to make four MAJOR life changes:
Leave your familiar surroundings
Leave your community
Leave your extended family
Go to a place you’ve never seen before
To call this a tall order is the understatement of a lifetime. What lends the voice credibility? Even if it’s audible, what makes you obey a voice belonging to an invisible person?
And yet, Abram makes a life, family, and history changing choice. He alters the fabric of reality for thousands of years by doing what he’s told…
So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
This, friends, is faith. Don’t confuse it with what some religious groups essentially call “wishful thinking” or “willing yourself to agree with something”. That’s not faith. There is a formula for faith. It’s quite simple, and if you let it, it will revolutionize your thinking by its simplicity.
God speaks + You hear + You believe + You obey = Faith
Whether it’s directly from God’s mouth to your heart, through a friend, or through Scripture, God is constantly speaking to you each and every day. Whether you’re listening is up to you. Whether you’re believing what you hear is more affected by the posture of your affection and desire.
But faith isn’t reasoning yourself into abstaining from cigarettes or alcohol. It’s not doing good deeds to feel good about yourself or to try to earn your way into heaven. Faith is believing what you hear God say.
That’s it. It’s that simple. Abraham was going about his life when God spoke to him and told him to leave his hometown and everything familiar. He trusted God and chose to go. He didn’t know what would happen along the way. He didn’t have a roadmap. He just obeyed. And he obeyed because he believed it was better to obey this God than to do what felt comfortable.
And it was counted as righteousness to him. In Hebrews, God commends Abraham especially, calling him “the father of all who believe.” We also know from Scripture that by faith Abraham was deemed righteous by God.
All throughout the 11th chapter of Hebrews, we read about men and women of faith. These people trusted God. That’s what the Bible means when it says over and over again “By faith, Noah…” and “By faith, Abraham…” and “By faith, Enoch…” God spoke to them, and they believed him.
That, my friends, is what faith is.
What has God said to you? If you’re not sure, pray this prayer right now with me:
“Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking to me. What are you trying to tell me through this article?”
Now stop. Just listen.