What Faith Is
By John McCoury
Roan Mountain, Tennessee
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:1,6 there is an element that is regarded as essential to the Christian life, and that is faith. It is what makes the Christian different from the non-Christian. Henry David Thoreau once said, “If I seem to walk out of step with others, it is because I am listening to another drum beat”. That is an exact description of faith: Christians walk as though listening to another drum beat. This chapter centers on what faith is. Faith is greatly misunderstood and there are many peculiar ideas of what it is. Faith is not positive thinking. Faith is not a hunch that is followed. Faith is not hoping for the best, hoping that everything will turn out alright. Faith is not a feeling of optimism. Faith is none of these things, though all of them have been identified as faith. What is faith then? Faith begins with things hoped for, that is, it starts with a sense of discontent. You can never have much faith unless you are dissatisfied with the way you are now and are longing for something better. That is why, all through the Bible, the great enemy of faith is a complacent spirit, an attitude of self-satisfaction with the status quo. But if you are dissatisfied, if you are looking for something better, then you are in a position to exercise faith. Then comes the conviction of things not seen — not only a desire for something better but an awareness of something else: That is faith. It means we become aware that we are surrounded by an invisible kingdom, that which is seen is not the whole explanation of life, there are realities which cannot be seen or touched, and yet which are as real and as vital as anything we can see. This is so beautifully seen in the words and teachings of our Lord Jesus. He speaks of God the Father as though he were standing right there. He does not see the universe as an impersonal machine, grinding and clanking along, as science so frequently does, but he sees it as an invisible, but very real, spiritual kingdom.
Again Verse 6 says the same: “He that comes to God must believe that he is, that God exists.” Some say That’s the hard part. No, it is not. The easiest thing in the world to do is to believe that God exists. It requires effort to disbelieve. Everyone starts out believing God exists. It is only when they are carefully trained to disbelieve that any come to the place of declaring God does not exist. Light from God is streaming in on every side and all we need to do is open our eyes to see it. That is why children have no problem with this. The concept of God ought to be one of the most difficult ideas for children to grasp since God cannot be seen. But children have no difficulty at all in believing that God exists. Are you a person of faith? Is there a hunger for something better in your life? Is there a conviction that God is ready to answer your cry? In fact, He has already answered it, in Christ. Are you ready then to commit yourself to obey what He says, to accept His verdict, His viewpoint, as the true one despite the cries that will pour into your ear from every side, saying this is wrong? That is what faith is, and if you are that kind of person you can join this parade of faith. Father, thank you for this revelation of what faith is today. How I feel the need for it, as I live amid a confused and bewildering society. Grant me the simple faith of a child. Teach me to live according to it, though it is through difficulties, trials, heartache, and tears. Are you hopeful for that which you hunger for — your not-yet-completed maturity in Christ in your life? Will you rest in the indwelling Christ to work out His life in your salvation, bringing what He has promised to completion? “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” — 1 Thes. 5:25