And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith. It is a word that you hear many times, especially in terms of religion. There is “religious belief.” Religion involves the things that you “believe,” or so you have been told. But what is faith? What makes it so necessary?
The Bible itself provides us with an excellent definition of faith.
Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith involves belief: confidence in something without having concrete evidence that it is true. Religious belief involves faith, but so does every aspect of life: everything from getting up in the morning to getting in your car to going to work. We have confidence that things will go on as usual, even if we have no proof that they will happen exactly as we have planned. Even though every aspect of our lives is touched by faith in some way or another, it is good for us to consider faith in God and its importance.
We cannot offer concrete proof of the existence of God, Jesus of Nazareth, His death, burial, and resurrection, or the spiritual Kingdom of which Christ is head (Ephesians 5:22-33). No proof can be offered against any of these things, either. We can demonstrate that the stories preserved in the Bible are consistent with their time frames and thus are believable, but a “leap of faith” is always necessary to recognize God, Christ, and the Kingdom.
The Bible’s message is designed for us to come to faith in God and Christ Jesus. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” as Paul describes it in Romans 10:17. You can have assurance regarding God and His eternal plan in Jesus Christ which He has accomplished and is accomplishing (Ephesians 3:11): it is for everyone to read, understand, and accept in His Word.
Contrary to the claims of many, the Bible does not teach that “faith alone” is what will save a man. James explicitly refutes this idea in James 2:24. It is not sufficient to mentally accept the truth claims of Jesus of Nazareth; even the demons do that, and shudder (James 2:19). As the Hebrew author indicates, we must believe in God, and believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
To seek after God is to follow His Word and obey His will, becoming a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-23, 1 John 2:1-6). We must accept that Jesus Christ is Lord, and then place our confidence and trust in Him. Those who enter Christ’s Kingdom are those who have a childlike faith (Matthew 18:1-4): complete trust in and dependence upon God. Faith in Jesus Christ demands everything from you: your life, your soul, your will, your priorities. Nothing else is worthy of Jesus (Matthew 10:37-39).
Thus, when we think of faith, we do well to consider it as trust. When we come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, we can no longer live according to what we think is right based on our thoughts, what we have learned from our family, education, or culture, or by any other standard than what God has made known in Jesus. We put our trust in Jesus, not because we always understand or automatically agree, but because we have come to believe that He is the Holy One of God and has the words of eternal life (John 6:68-69).
In fact we are all but guaranteed to find some of the things which Jesus taught to be difficult and disagreeable; the earliest Christians did, and all generations since have been compelled to grapple with the differences between what they have learned from their families and culture versus the truth God has revealed in Jesus. To have complete agreement most likely means that we are no longer following God in Christ but have exalted a god of our own manufacturing (Romans 1:18-25)!
Such is why faith is of the greatest importance. Few people have difficulties accepting Jesus and what He said when they already agree with Him. But what will we do when what Jesus taught and did is at variance with what we have been taught and the norms of our culture and society? Will we remain true to Jesus or will we compromise with the world (Romans 12:2)? Will we prove willing to trust in God in Christ and His ways no matter what, to walk by that trust and not by sight, even and especially when it seems hard, counter-intuitive, or difficult to understand?
Thus faith in God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Kingdom is a costly matter. Yet such is the only way to receive the eternal reward and inheritance. We encourage you to count the cost, and consider becoming a believer in Jesus Christ today!
Ethan R. Longhenry