The Nature of Faith

Everyday we exercise faith in something or someone. Ninety-nine percent of every belief or value we hold is by faith. Faith is central to all of life. We put faith in so
many things throughout our day without hesitation we don’t even stop to think about it. When we go to the doctor whose name we may not be able pronounce and degrees we’ve never seen or even verified. The doctor may write out or with technology input a prescription into a system. We go to a pharmacist whom we’ve never personally met, and they give us a chemical compound that we may not understand. Then we go home and take this medication according to the instructions on the bottle. All the while we are trusting in sincere faith. Faith is also central to the Christian life. The word faith appears approximately 232 times in the Bible.

What Is Faith?

First, I think it would be helpful to understand what FAITH IS NOT.

Faith is NOT AN EMOTION, – (i.e. feeling good about God.)
Faith is NOT A BLIND LEAP in the dark, in spite of the facts.
Faith is NOT A UNIVERSAL FORCE that you wield that allows you to get the things you want in life. (i.e. the force in Star Wars…Luke use the force!)
Unfortunately, these ideas of faith are even being taught today in some churches.

In 1988 a television drama based on a true story aired for the first time ”Promised a Miracle,” , it focuses on a married couple, Larry and Lucky Parker, who belong to the
First Assembly of God Church the couple withheld insulin from their 11-year-old son, a diabetic, because they were taught and told if they merely had faith in God then he
would be healed. They acted on that teaching of faith under the belief that God would heal their son without conventional medicine. Their son lapsed into a diabetic coma. Tragically, the boy died in 1974 and the Parkers were tried and convicted of manslaughter and child abuse. Further complicating matters, rather than conducting a funeral, they held a resurrection service, believing that if they had enough faith, that is to say, if they said the right things in prayer to God and simply believed hard enough without showing any signs of doubt, then through their faith it would bring their son back from the dead. Why did this happen? Because they had the wrong idea and misplacement of faith.

The New Testament gospels show that the disciples were also often confused about faith. However they were wise enough to ask Jesus about it. In Luke, chapter 17, you see the disciples asking Jesus to increase their faith. And Jesus’ response to them:

“If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” Jesus’ response is interesting.

Notice what He doesn’t say, he doesn’t say some of the things that we’ve become accustomed to saying in church. Jesus didn’t say, “You just need to try harder.” Nor did Jesus say, “You just gotta believe.” Jesus’ response reveals an important truth about the nature of faith. The mustard seed was the smallest of seeds during that time.

Jesus used that fact to illustrate that it isn’t the size of your faith that’s important. Rather…the power of faith rests in the reliability of its object, not in how confident you may be.

Allow me to elaborate. Suppose you are standing on the edge of a lake during the first cold weeks of winter in the Northeastern part of the country. The lake is frozen over
with a very thin sheet of ice. Being filled with faith and confidence you take a step to walk across the newly formed layer of ice. Unfortunately, even though you are extremely confident and “full of faith” the result would be a cold, wet shock to your entire system. As long as the ice is thin, it doesn’t matter how much faith you have. The ice (the object itself) is not reliable. Now imagine a few months later, after the cold winter is in full effect. The ice is now several feet thick as you stand at the edge of the lake. Because of you past experience, You’re now extremely cautious as you think about walking across the ice. You’re not sure whether the ice will hold you. After all, it didn’t before. Even though you’re frightened and have “less faith” than before, the smallest most hesitating step will be rewarded by the feeling of a firm footing. What’s the difference? The ice “object” is more reliable.

It’s true that the power of faith rests in the reliability of the object. However… The degree of faith one places in an object is directly proportional to the knowledge of the object.

For example, consider a person terrified of flying. When they first arrive at the airport they purchase insurance at one of those coin-operated insurance policy machines. They
have their seat-belt buckled twenty minutes before take-off and is sure to listen carefully to the routine “emergency instructions.” They have absolutely no faith in the ability of the plane to get them to their destination. But, as the journey progresses, the passenger begins to change. They unbuckle the seat belt, then have a bit of lunch, and pretty soon they’re talking to the person next to them and joking. Why the change?

What happened? Is there more faith at 35,000 feet? Of course not. The more they learned about the object of their faith, the plane, the more faith they exercised in that
object.

It’s the same in the Christian life. The more we learn of our Lord, the more faith we place in Him. We must learn to live by the “facts” of God’s Word rather than our
feelings. We must spend time in the Bible observing, asking God to show us more of who He is. There are many places where we could start. The Psalmist does a wonderful job in Psalms 145, 146 and 147 describing who God is, however there are many more. In all of the Bible, we should continually ask God to teach us more of Himself and notice specifically how He wants us to trust Him. In any given situation, ask God, “What about You would be helpful for me to know, as I trust You in this situation?” Undoubtedly we should study the entire Bible mining the scriptures for all that it worth. But we should NOT LOSE FOCUS, on what or rather who we are looking for by allowing ourselves to become sidetracked, or delayed in our search.

The main purpose of the scriptures is to testify of Christ, helping us come unto Him and receive eternal life and spend all of eternity with Him. Through the words of the
scriptures, we can come to know and love our Heavenly Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can read His commandments and, as a result, gain strength to
resist the temptation to sin. We will gradually increase our desire to obey God’s laws.

The scriptures comfort us and teach us while we are in this realm, and they show us the only way to our heavenly home which is through Jesus.

“…Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by
me. “(John 14:5-6)

God’s Peace!

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