What is faith?

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. The dictionary indicates faith is the confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. It also says it includes belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. Faith can be expanded to include a set of principles or beliefs, as in Christian faith.

1 Thess 5:24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Jas 1:6 instructs us to ask with faith in God, not ourselves, not others, and certainly not Satan. We are asking God for wisdom. It is in God alone we should put our faith. James goes on to proclaim that God doles out wisdom generously and will not be unhappy with such a request, nor will He be picky about to whom He gives this gift to.

This post is an excerpt (Question 6.1) from my book Ask James one.

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About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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3 Responses to What is faith?

  1. Todd Beal says:

    Lance,

    The following Wikipedia article Faith in Christianity says regarding Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith (pi’stis) is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This passage concerning the function of faith in relation to the covenant of God is often used as a definition of faith. Υποστασις (hy-po’sta-sis), translated “assurance” here, commonly appears in ancient papyrus business documents, conveying the idea that a covenant is an exchange of assurances which guarantees the future transfer of possessions described in the contract. In view of this, James Hope Moulton and George Milligan suggest the rendering: “Faith is the title deed of things hoped for” (Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, 1963, p. 660). The Greek word e´leg-khos, rendered “conviction” in Hebrews 11:1 (ESV), conveys the idea of bringing forth evidence that demonstrates something, particularly something contrary to what appears to be the case. Thereby this evidence makes clear what has not been discerned before and so refutes what has only appeared to be the case. This evidence for conviction is so positive or powerful that it is described as faith.

    Faith in this context is not trust or belief, but is a powerful divine gift that we humans are simply incapable of granting ourselves. I am not necessarily taking issue with your post. I just wanted to give some background behind this all too often overlooked aspect of faith. We read the Hebrews definition, we preach the Hebrews definition, but we don’t believe the Hebrews definition – even if adequately explained to us – because without ever experiencing it we cannot understand it. When I experienced this aspect of faith for myself, I immediately thought, “Why have I not heard this in church?” I finally realized I hadn’t heard it because most people have not experienced it and therefore don’t understand the definition.

  2. Lance Ponder says:

    Very well said, Todd. I will treasure this comment and contemplate on it often. I really appreciate the depth you’ve brought to this. You are absolutely right in the things you’ve said, of course, and I see it deeply enriching this discussion. Thank you, and may God bless you.

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