(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)
What exactly is faith? Is it positive thinking, or determining to believe something even in the face of difficulties? Do some people just have an innate ability to have more faith than others?
The Bible’s definition
Hebrews 11:1 tells us what faith is according to the Bible:
“Now faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Note 1 on faith in the New Testament Recovery Version gives us a further explanation:
“Faith is the substantiation of things hoped for. Hence, it is the assurance, the confidence, the confirmation, the reality, the essence, the supporting ground, of things hoped for, the foundation that supports the things hoped for. Faith is also the conviction of things not seen. It convinces us of what we do not see. Hence, it is the evidence, the proof, of things not seen.”
Faith is truly wonderful! For instance, when we were saved, Christ came to live in us. This isn’t something we can verify with our five physical senses, but the Word of God assures us of this fact. It’s also confirmed by our personal experience; we simply can’t deny that He truly does live in us. This is faith operating in us to convince us of something that can’t be seen.
But where does such faith come from? In this post, we’ll explore the source of faith and how we can obtain it.
Where does faith come from?
The first thing we must understand is that faith doesn’t originate from within us. We’re not born with a natural ability to believe. If we try to muster up faith by our own willpower, we’ll be discouraged. This is because we’re not the source of faith. Faith comes from God. God allots, or gives, faith to us. Second Peter 1:1 says:
“To those who have been allotted faith equally precious as ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
God is not only the Giver of faith, but He is also the Author, the Originator, of our faith. Hebrews 12:2 says:
“Looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.”
Note 3 on Author in the New Testament Recovery Version tells us that the Greek word can also be rendered Originator, Inaugurator, Leader, Pioneer, or Forerunner. Jesus is the Originator of our faith! He is the One who inaugurates it in each one of us. He also leads us on the path of faith that He Himself pioneered in His life on earth.
From the above verses, we see clearly that the source of faith is not found within us. Faith is something given to us by God, and Jesus is the Author, the Originator, of faith.
How do we obtain faith?
As believers, we all have faith. But how did we first obtain it? Romans 10:17 tells us:
“So faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
How did we first believe in Jesus Christ? It was through our hearing of the word of Christ, which includes all of the words recorded in the New Testament. Someone may have told us about Jesus Christ and all He did to redeem and save us. As we listened, we began to appreciate Him. While the gospel was being spoken to us our appreciation of Christ increased, until eventually, a spontaneous reaction took place in us: we believed in Him. Previously we may never have thought much about Jesus Christ or even believed He was real, but through hearing the word of Christ, faith was imparted into us.
As an example, let’s say you don’t know anything about diamonds. At first glance, a diamond looks like a common piece of glass to you. But then a jeweller explains to you how the diamond was formed over thousands of years through tremendous heat and pressure. As you look closer, he tells you about its different characteristics. The more you listen to him and look at the diamond, the more you appreciate its beauty and value. Then if someone offered you a diamond, you wouldn’t hesitate to accept it.
Considering our own experience of salvation can help us see how hearing the word concerning Christ made us realise how precious He is. We began to treasure the Lord Jesus and all He did for us. Without even trying, we began to have faith in Him.
So the source of our faith is not ourselves, but the Lord. And in our experience, faith came to us through hearing the gospel of Christ. It didn’t come by striving to believe. The word of Christ spoken into us imparted faith into us. This is how we initially obtained this precious faith from God.
How wonderful it is that we all possess faith! In our next post, we discuss how we can be strengthened in our faith and learn to live a life of faith.