"Lord, there is no one else that we can go to!" (John 6:68, CEV)
Among Christians, there are many misconceptions about “faith”.
Many think of Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” as a definition of faith. But this passage is a description and not a definition, just like 1 Corinthians 13 (“Love is patient, love is kind, …”) is a description of love, and not a definition. If Hebrews 11:1 were a definition, then a ticket would be faith! Isn’t a ticket “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”?
Many Christians speak of “having more faith” or “increasing your faith”, as though faith were a quantity which can be measured out and added to. But Jesus repudiates this view in His “faith the grain of a mustard seed” parable (Luke 17:5-6). Faith is either there, or it’s not – it’s all-or-nothing.
Christians similarly misunderstand “belief”. Belief is only marginally concerned with theological concepts and dogmas. Biblically, faith and belief are identical: a single Greek word comprises both.
What then is faith/belief? Bottom-line Biblical faith or belief is, purely and simply, depending on God.
Why doesn’t God do miracles to make everybody believe? Because if our belief rested upon great miracles, then we would depend upon Him only in great matters. We would not depend upon Him in the small things, but rather persist in depending upon ourselves because we consider ourselves able to handle them.
We never truly depend on God until we are brought to the end of ourselves. Only then do we realize that we have no alternative but to trust Him.. God wants to bring all of us to the point where our hearts recognize that we NEVER have an alternative. Peter expressed this heart well: when Jesus asked him, “Do you want to leave me also?”, Peter responded, “Lord, whom else can we go to? Only you have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68)
There are only two people in the New Testament whom Jesus commended for having great faith (Matthew 8:10, 15:28). Both were Gentiles, and thus “unspiritual and unholy” by Jewish standards . Both expressed abject unworthiness to receive anything from Jesus. In other words, both threw themselves utterly upon God’s grace, and trusted not at all in their own merit.
The realization that we have no alternative is
the first and most important reason for faith. However, once this
realization has been attained, God grants further reasons for faith through
special revelations. So Abraham and Moses depended upon God in extraordinary
ways, because God gave them extraordinary revelations. This is what
Paul refers to as the “gift of faith” (1
Cor. 13:2). But let us not let these special
gifts of faith distract us from the basic reality that faith is only depending
on God, nothing more. Jesus said, “To those who have, more will be
given; to those who do not have, even what little they have will be taken
Let us make sure that we really have, and God will provide us with more.
O God, You have cast us off, You have scattered us, You were angry; take
You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us to drink the wine of trembling.
You have given a banner to those who fear You, to lift it up because of the truth.
with Your right hand and answer me, that Your beloved may be delivered.
will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me into Edom?
Have not You, O God, cast us off? And will You, O God, not go out with our armies?
Give us help against our foe; for vain is the help of man.
Through God we shall do great things; for it is He who shall trample our enemies.
(Ps. 60, MKJV)
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Last Revised: March 10, 2003
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