What is Faith?
If you are going to have an understanding about a risen God, and that He is alive today in your life, working every day in your life, you’re going to have to understand something about faith. In fact, you must know it exhaustively.
Sometime people say, “I’m believing God for something”, or I will ask them “Are you in faith about that?”. There are different answers I get from different people, but usually if you’ll listen to someone’s conversation, you can already determine where they are in their faith, right? From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). So, you’ll know whether their heart is grounded in faith by what they say about what they’re believing.
Have you heard anyone say that they are healed by the blood of Jesus? They quote 1 Peter 2:24 and Mark 16:18, but when asked later how they are doing, their tone changes, stating “Well, the results came back and they aren’t what I thought they should be, and I thought I had this sickness licked, but, bless God, I’m still believing”. Now, that didn’t fortify or match what was exclaimed in his previous declaration of faith. So, what does that tell you? If it’s not settled in your mouth, it’s not settled in your heart.
What does the Bible say about Faith?
So, let’s return to some basics of faith. What is faith? The scripture is full of references to faith:
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) - "And without faith it’s impossible to please God..."
Romans 10:17 (NKJV) - "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) - "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"
Faith is listed 243 times in the New Testament, and when you look at that word in its Greek depiction, you’ll see it listed as pistis, meaning "persuaded; being persuaded, persuasion."
Faith is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. For the believer, it is God’s divine persuasion, and therefore distinct from human belief or confidence in that belief.
Why do we say that? Because a lot of people say they are believing God for something, but faith and belief are not the same thing. You can believe God for something, and when you tell me you’re believing God for something, believing is what you’re doing. You can’t get belief from someone. I can’t get belief from God, or anyone else. But faith is a persuasion, and faith is something I can get from God. As I believe in God, God then persuades me, gives me a gift that persuades me to be able to believe about Him what He declares about Himself.
Faith is a gift
So, faith is something that’s working from God towards me, through me, back to God. Faith is from God to persuade you to persuade people to God. Faith from God is always used for something in Kingdom purpose. Belief is things that we do. Now, you can have faith in a lot of things (people, things, this world), but that’s not necessarily a good thing. God says that it’s all wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12). But, when you say "I have faith in God," (Mark 11:22), the God-kind of faith, it doesn’t come from without, but rather comes as a gift from God to me.
Ephesians 2:8 – "For by grace you are saved through faith." (What is faith? It’s a divine persuasion. It’s a gift that’s given by God that persuades us to believe in Him so we can be saved) "and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God."
If we don’t have this full understanding, we will go around stating "I have faith, I have faith in…" and people will have faith in their faith. You never want to get to a place where you have faith in your faith. Romans 12:3 speaks of this and calls it being high-minded. You want to have faith in the God-kind of faith; that God has persuaded me to believe what I believe. The only reason I believe this is because God put a spirit in me to persuade me to believe this way. And I want to persuade others to believe this way so they can receive the gift of faith.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for; it is tangible substance. It is a substantial gift as if God gave you a package and said, "Unwrap this, put it in your heart, and it will empower you to believe the statements that I’m about to reveal to you."
1 Corinthians 12 refers to spiritual gifts: revelation knowledge, and the gift of faith. So, with your spirit and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the gift of faith is given through the Spirit. Faith is the way for the Spirit to communicate with your spirit. When faith communicates with your spirit, it then persuades your mind, intellect, and emotions. Have you ever wondered why you believe so emphatically about God? Why would you lay down your own life? That is beyond just belief. That is a divine persuasion, a gift that is given, a mechanism that is in you that holds you to that faith.
Why is this important? If you can understand it at this level, you’ll be able to understand faith as it works in different operations in your life. If God can give you faith, then faith can come. So, if faith comes by hearing, if faith comes to you, then it can go from you, right? How many times have we lost faith? How many times have we come into faith and then lose it. So, if faith can come to us, it can leave us. We must always be receiving the gift of grace through faith. Grace is "the ability to do for you what you can’t do for yourself." That is a good thing. There are so many times that we can’t do what we need in our lives, but the gift of grace through faith begins to operate, and God steps in and does things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. Sometimes He just lets me know and I don’t even know how I know. I made a decision, chose a direction, made a choice, and out of nowhere I came up with this plan. But it wasn’t just "out of nowhere"; it was from the Kingdom of God that lives in you.
If we're operating in Kingdom, and faith is the persuasion that ties us to Kingdom, and that persuasion is for us to persuade others to God as God persuades us, then we must ask ourselves how does faith motivate us in our lives?
We are to live by faith
There is a divine persuasion on me because I live by faith. The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Habakkuk 2:4, Hebrews 10:38). Are you just? Have you been sanctified by the blood of Jesus? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? Then you are just, so how will you live? By divine persuasion. You will be divinely persuaded every day of your life to be persuaded in the things of God. My life should persuade you. You see me operate in my life, and it should persuade you to want to have the type of life I’m having the way I’m having it. Watch me go through problems and watch how God handles them and keeps me afloat. Watch me go through the good times and bad times.
We should all be living a life of faith. A life of faith has nothing to do with you, it doesn’t have anything to do with your belief; it has to do with your faith. If you stay strong in your faith, you’ll stay strong in your belief. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. Notice that I didn’t say “strong in your belief” because you can believe and believe and get weak in a hurry. The first 10 times you’re believing for something and all 10 times you hear “no”, your belief can get weak. But every time I hear a scripture, my faith gets stronger, no matter what the nay-sayers are saying. If I keep my faith strong, my belief takes care of itself.
We must live this way. We must understand what faith is, where it comes from. Faith is based on His ability, not your ability. It has nothing to do with your ability. This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn. If faith was based on your ability, you would’ve already fixed it! If you were able, you would’ve already handled it. Faith is the acknowledgement to God that “I don’t have the ability”. Faith begins where your ability stops. Faith is what keeps you pressing to the mark of the high calling and has nothing to do with your ability! When you can’t, He can. When you didn’t, He did.