Lesson 11 -- fourth quarter 1999
November 14, 1999
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications
Faith. What is it? And how do you know if you have it?
First question first: what is faith? Well, I suppose we could say that faith is a system of belief, and that would be a good beginning but it certainly wouldn't be enough. Otherwise the Israelites could have parked at the edge of the Jordan for 26 generations, proclaiming their unflagging belief that what God said was true: a path would open through the river as soon as the feet of the priests touched the water. So there has to be another element to faith.
Let's amend our definition. How about this? Faith is a system of belief that leads to actions consistent with those beliefs. Satisfied with that? I have to tell you that I am not. It just seems something is still lacking. Otherwise the people could have left their tents pitched and their stuff in their tents while they curiously waited for word if the priests got more than the soles of their feet wet. What I mean by that is rather elementary. The people could have said, "We believe a path will be made through the river, and we will walk through that path . . . once it appears." So there has to be yet another element to faith.
Time for another amendment: Faith is a system of belief that, unhampered by the lack of tangible evidence and human reasoning, leads to actions consistent with those beliefs. OK, I'll grant you that this definition does not flow very smoothly. I'm certain it does not rise to the level of a dictionary definition. It may even lack another element or two. Even so, I think it has enough meat now to make for some profitable chewing. So let's chew.
Faith is belief. That may seem redundant. But it isn't, because this kind of belief is a conviction, a certainty. You see, I can say, "I believe tomorrow it will rain" and not have any certainty or conviction as I do when I say, "I believe Jesus rose from the dead." When Joshua said the river would open up, he was absolutely convinced.
Faith is not shackled by the physically and humanly obvious. We humans get hung up on the obvious. Faith could be defined as seeing as God sees. Faith goes by what is obvious and tangible to God! Listen to this definition from Hebrews 11:1 -- "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." A thing hoped for is generally intangible, but faith gives it substance. In other words, it sees something as accomplished . . . even before it is tangibly so. Have you ever seen invisible evidence? No, I'm not being silly; I'm trying to demonstrate the reach of faith!
Faith acts. To put it another way, faith works. If it doesn't, it isn't. Because "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). Those who try to be Christians with a works-free faith are fighting a losing battle!
Faith. Do you have it?
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