What Is Faith?

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What Is Faith?

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Usually after a calamity, one hears the words, "Where was God in all this? Why didn't He prevent it?" While some 95 to 98 percent of the people in the United States profess a belief in God, only around 40 percent attend any church regularly. There is a great disparity in what is professed and what is practiced.

Where does faith come in this process? Without faith one cannot understand or please God (Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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). Jesus Christ said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16 Mark 16:16He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.
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). The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "By grace you have been saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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). So faith is vital to a person's future!

What is faith and what do you need to believe? The Bible shows faith comes in different forms. One faith has to do with the set of beliefs a person holds. Some may ask the question, "What faith do you profess?" Jude 3 exhorts Christians to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." He is referring to the set of doctrines we are to believe.

A second type of faith has to do with a faith that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit—which God promotes and produces within a person. Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
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lists one of the fruits that the Spirit produces in our lives as faith or faithfulness. This is a faith that is supported by God's Spirit.

The gift of faith is the third type. This is found in 1 Corinthians 12 in which Paul explains about gifts that the Spirit gives. I understand this to mean an extra measure of faith to see one through difficult times. Have you ever seen individuals come through major trials and wondered how they were able to do so? The gift of faith may have been the source of their strength.

The final aspect of faith is that which brings one to Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John we read of an encounter that Jesus had with the Jews. They were looking for faults in Jesus so they might accuse Him. He taught them some things; and as a result, many believed in Him. He showed that their initial faith was not complete when He said "...If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32 John 8:31-32 [31] Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; [32] And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
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).

Faith is defined by the apostle James as that which has two components. The intellectual and the active are both sides of real faith. If one only believes in his mind, it is not good enough. The believer must also show his intellectual faith by his actions. James uses the example of Abraham who not only believed God would and could fulfill His promises and take care of his family, but also demonstrated his conviction in following God by being willing to do whatever God said, however difficult it was (compare James 2:14-23 James 2:14-23 [14] What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, [16] And one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? [17] Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. [18] Yes, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. [19] You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble. [20] But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? [21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son on the altar? [22] See you how faith worked with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? [23] And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
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; Genesis 22:1-12 Genesis 22:1-12 [1] And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. [2] And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of. [3] And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him. [4] Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. [5] And Abraham said to his young men, Abide you here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. [6] And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. [7] And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? [8] And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. [9] And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. [10] And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. [11] And the angel of the LORD called to him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. [12] And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.
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; Hebrews 11:17-19 Hebrews 11:17-19 [17] By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, [18] Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall your seed be called: [19] Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from where also he received him in a figure.
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).

Some basics are essential to believe. We must believe in God (Romans 1:20 Romans 1:20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
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). He is the One who has a plan of salvation for us. We must believe in Jesus Christ as God's Son who came into the world to live a perfect life and to die for our sins (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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). We must believe in God's Word as inspired and as a guidebook for our salvation (Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
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; 2 Timothy 3:15-17 2 Timothy 3:15-17 [15] And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.
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; John 5:39 John 5:39Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
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; 1 John 2:3-4 1 John 2:3-4 [3] And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. [4] He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
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).

We must believe God and His teachings if we are to recognize where we have gone astray and know to turn from unrighteousness to God's righteousness. It involves repentance or change. But, prior to repentance, one needs to have faith! Jesus showed both were essential in Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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.

So, faith has four aspects: the set of beliefs, the fruit of the Spirit, the gift of the Spirit and one's own belief to bring him or her to God. Take the time to establish in your mind and heart firm reasons to believe that God exists. Take time to really believe that Jesus was the Christ and that He died for each one of us. Take the time to form sound reasons to believe that the Bible is God's Word for humankind. When you need extra help, ask God for His strengthening so that you may believe from the heart (Mark 9:23-24 Mark 9:23-24 [23] Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes. [24] And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help you my unbelief.
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). The Ethiopian eunuch's response to the statement "if you believe with all your heart" was a convicted "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37 Acts 8:37And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
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). Philip then baptized him and the eunuch was under the grace of God and on the way to the Kingdom of God.

May God give you the resolve, conviction and courage to seek to believe in Him and His ways (intellectually and actively—"I know" and "I do") with all your heart! VT

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