“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5).
All of us could use a little bit more faith, and if we had the faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains (cf. Luke 17:6).
The word ‘Faith’ can be confusing. In one place it says, “Where is your faith?” Yet, in another place it says that FAITH was once delivered (cf. Luke 8:25; Jude 3).
In one place it says, “faith cometh by hearing,” and in another it says that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
It’s easy to see how we become confused by this very complex and powerful word. It’s up to us to study and to understand what it is the Lord is conveying through this little word.
Let’s look at faith.
The Greek word translated ‘FAITH’ is; pistis; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: –assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity. (W.E. VINES)
That’s the definition of the word, but to fully appreciate FAITH, we need to look into scripture for its use. Would it surprise you to learn that scripture records FAITH in 7 different ways?
FAITH as it is used in the scriptures.
What we usually think when we say “FAITH” is BELIEF. “But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb 11:6; cf John 12:42). Consider that James uses belief and faith synonymously, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (Jas 2:18-19).
Another common way we understand FAITH is with the word TRUST. “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” (Matt 8:26). Abraham trusted God when he offered up the son of promise. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb 11:17-19; cf. Rom 9:17-20; John 14:1; Luke 7:9).
Here’s where it gets difficult for some. FAITH is also used in conjunction with OBEDIENCE. Paul wrote in Romans, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:” “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26).
FAITH is also an objective content called “the faith” that is delivered. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). Jude says, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3; cf Gal 1:11,23).
FAITH is also used to mean LOYAL. To be faithful is to be loyal. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Heb 10:23) “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev 2:10).
Yet another way FAITH is used is seen in one’s strong personal conviction. “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph 6:16). “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs” (Rom 14:1-2).
Lastly, FAITH is listed among the 9 spiritual gifts early saints could receive during the writing of the New Testament (1Cor 12:8-9; 13:2; Matt 17:20)
As you can see, FAITH is a very complex word. To disconnect it from its full meaning for one definition is to pervert the word of God.
Spencer is an evangelist for the church of Christ at Franklin & Juniper in Borger Texas.