Perhaps the first thing is to see if we understand what faith is. This can be seen by how we explain it to others, especially young children.
How do you describe faith?
I've found children grasp the idea of faith much easier than adults. I suppose that's at least one reason Jesus used a child as an example of who is greatest in the kingdom (Matt 18:1-5).
So, how would you describe faith in God to someone who is a nonbeliever?
Could you describe faith without using Christian clichés and quoting Bible texts? When you can explain biblical truth in your own words (IYOW), nonbelievers are more likely to understand what you mean.
The four men mentioned in the first few verses of Hebrews 11 show us what true faith is. Abel was the first son of Adam and Eve who was murdered. Enoch was a righteous man who didn't experience physical death. Noah had a great mission from God to keep humanity from further corruption. And Abraham was considered the friend of God because He trusted God.
Their faith made these men extraordinary, not the other way around. They weren't extraordinary men with faith, they were people like you and me. They were commended and accepted because of their faith in God.
What is not faith
Faith is not the product of good effort, moral goodness and rightness, or right beliefs about God. I think people are often confused about this, including many Christian believers.
Many Christians seem to have a more Buddhist view of faith than a biblical one. Somehow it gets mixed up with pop culture views of so-called faith.
Forrest Gump's view of faith was a mix of chance and destiny, “a little of both.” Sci-Fi films like Matrix and Star Wars present an impersonal and self-will driven belief—“trust the force, it will be with you.” But these ideas are the opposite of biblical faith, the kind of faith we see in men like Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham (Hebrews 11:1-8).
The past few decades have seen an abundance of self-help or instructional teaching on spiritual truth, yet many believers are weak in faith. Worry, stress, fear, and questions dominate thoughts and weigh down the hearts of many believers.
Are we expecting faith to produce a risk-free Christian life? If so, it is a denial of genuine faith.
The nature of faith
The earliest teaching I remember about faith focused on the definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1. This describes faith, but in a somewhat impersonal and technical way.
When we approach spiritual truth with an analytical mindset only, it leads to an impersonal, technical sense of truth.
An impersonal faith is no different from that of the Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, realist or moralist. It reduces faith to a self-determined belief, or a faith in faith itself.
Faith must be based on and directed towards God in a personal, relational manner (Hebrews 11: 6). It is spiritual in nature, because God is Spirit (John 4:24). Authentic faith is also relational in nature, because God is the one, true living God (Gen 1:26-27; Josh 3:10; Psa 42:2; Jer 23:36; Acts 14:15; Heb 10:31; Rev 7:2).
Faith is trust in God Himself
An inherent element of faith is trust—a willingness to risk everything for God.
Faith doesn’t grow from a risk-free mindset, but a risk-all trust in God. Genuine faith brings a sense of security that is paradoxical within this world and our American culture, but not to the kingdom of God.
True, authentic faith resides in the heart—the inner, spiritual part of a person—a person who trusts in God, the living God.
How do we get this authentic faith?
The four men mentioned above (Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham) demonstrate a genuine and personal faith. Five elements of faith are revealed in the first several verses of Hebrews 11. These five elements of faith are key to exercising authentic faith.
Next regular post I plan to look at these five elements of authentic faith. Until then—
What proof of faith exists in your daily life? How would others see faith at work in your life?
My posting schedule got derailed this week by a home-remodeling project. I hope to get back to my regular schedule next week. Thanks for reading! Share with others what resonates and encourages with you!