WebDef: Faith

Faith /fāTH/ — Noun: A deep and abiding knowing, even as the mind or senses may not fully comprehend.

The trust and confidence that faith inspires can enable us to act with boldness and compassion. Faith quells fear, bringing serenity in its place. Faith knows deeply even as our mind does not quite understand. It holds fast to the promise of a peace that transcends understanding. Faith is not, as some might suppose, the opposite of doubt. One can doubt in the mind and still have faith in the heart and soul. And faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.

The first step to having faith is to desire it. The next step is to ask for it. Then, seek knowledge, perhaps in a local church or in God's word, directly. For it is written, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8). So ask for faith, do your part, and be patient with the unfolding.

Select Bible Verses on Faith

  • Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.- Hebrews 11:1
  • And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. – Matthew 17:20
  • Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. – Matthew 21:21
  • And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. – Mark 9:24
  • (Jesus said) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. – John 14:1
  • Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. – Jude 1:3
  • So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – Romans 10:17

The Bible on Doubt vs. Faith

  • But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? – Matthew 14:24-31
  • But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. – John 20:24-29
  • My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. – James 1:2-7

Steps to Faith

It's a wonderful thing, to listen to the inner voice that desires to grow in relationship with God. As adults, we often are our worst enemies, expecting ourselves to be excellent at everything, right away. That's why we so often hesitate to pick up an instrument or to try learning a new skill. Why not allow yourself, gently, to explore the thought of growing in faith? Putting away the harsh internal critic for a moment, try these simple steps: 1) recognize the desire; 2) bring it to God; 3) seek faith in community; and 4) stick with it. Here's a bit more about each step:

  • Recognize that you desire to have faith. This is the greatest step. Honor it, don't belittle it, and shield this desire from others who might want to bully or shame you.
  • Bring this desire to God: Ask for faith. Your prayer can be really simple, such as "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." There's no such thing as a bad way to begin a conversation with God (or with Jesus) about faith. Go for it!
  • Don't "stuff" your questions. When questions come up, explore them. Try a few of the excellent podcasts, to stick your toe in the water. Find a kind, generous, welcoming, and nonharming community that will support your faith journey. Try the sermons and suggested readings, or a Bible study group. You might have to do a bit of "shopping" to find the community that fits. But try not to judge your fellow explorers too quickly. They're on their own faith path, too, and they're only human.
  • Stick with it. Faith is a journey that begins with a single breath and that doesn't have to end, ever. Your faith life can be a living, growing and joyful part of your world.

Other Definitions of Faith

  • Faith is an active, reckless trust in God's Goodness. – Rev. Jeff Kunkel

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WebDefs – simple definitions of key terms relating to ministry and healing arts – are a regular feature of NHM Ministrants. Offered (where applicable) in conjunction with select key scriptural passages and analysis, WebDefs can be a useful starting place for exploring a topic of interest.

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