What is Faith?
The word in the N.T. denotes (1) the truth of the gospel of Christ and the kingdom of God. Acts 6:7; Rom 1:5; Gal 1:23; 1 Tim 3:9; Jude 3 ("the faith which was once delivered to the saints"). (2) The act by which we lay hold of and appropriate the truths of the gospel and Jesus Christ, and rely for salvation upon the work done by him in our stead. This is the prevailing sense of the word. Matt 8:10; John 3:16; Rom 1:16, etc., and all through John and the Pauline Epistles. The verb corresponding to the noun "faith" is "believe." Acts 16:31. The word occurs only a few times in the O.T., but the principle is there designated by other terms, such as to "look" to God, Isa 45:22, to "wait on" him, Ps 27:14, and to "trust" in him, Nah 1:7. Abraham is "the father of the faithful," because unbounded trust in God was the very essence of his piety. Comp. Rom 4:1. Paul derives the theme of his Epistle to the Romans from the passage of Habakkuk: "The just shall live by faith." Rom 1:17; comp. Hab 2:4. The Epistle to the Hebrews gives a bright catalogue of the heroes of faith under the old dispensation. Heb 11:1 ff. The nature of saving faith is threefold. It includes a conviction of the understanding, assent of the will, and trust of the heart. The principal element of faith is trust when its object is Christ. But it is impossible for us to trust in him without first being convinced of the genuineness of his claims. We believe a thing when we are assured of its reality; in a person when we add to this assurance trust. Faith apprehends Christ, and takes actual hold of him and all his benefits. Hence he who believes in Christ has already eternal life. John 3:36. Faith is opposed to doubt, Matt 21:21, and to sight, 2 Cor 5:7. Things which are the objects of faith we do not see. Heb 11:1. The importance of faith consists in this-that without faith we cannot become partakers of the merits and righteousness of Christ. As by the hand we lay hold of a treasure, and as by the eye we perceive the beauties of scenery, so by faith we lay hold of Christ. We who come within hearing of the gospel must exercise faith in order to become heirs of salvation. By faith we "put on" Christ. It is by faith that we are justified, and not by works. The work of salvation was all accomplished when the Saviour uttered the words, "It is finished." But a living faith will be accompanied by works, as much as a rose must diffuse perfume, and a good tree bring forth good fruit. As our Lord said, "Thy faith hath made thee whole," so Paul says, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," Eph 2:8. But "faith without works is dead." Jas 2:26. Faith is operative in love. Gal 5:6. The "faith of God," Rom 3:3, means his faithfulness. FAITH'FULNESS is a divine attribute, and denotes the certainty of the accomplishment of all that the divine Being has declared. Num 23:19; Ps 89:1, Ps 89:33-34; Heb 10:23.