Faith. What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1
The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…

That verse almost seems like one of the most confusing verses in the Bible, doesn’t it? I promise you that if we get our definition from somewhere else, this one will make a lot more sense to you.

I spent so much of my life trying to work out what faith is. In fact, faith was such an incomprehensible thing to me that I didn’t even know how to put my questions about faith into words! I was so grateful to God when I found the answer. And I pray you will be grateful to Him also when you find the answer.

Question: how did God create the world? In the beginning He said, “Let there be light!” And there was a tree! No? And there was a crocodile then, wasn’t there? No. There was light! Let’s read how God created the world in Psalm 33:6,9:

Psalm 33:6, 9
6| By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. 9| For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

The world was made by the word of God – He simply “Spake and it was done!” He said, Let there be light, and there was light! The very thing that God had spoken, came to exist.

There is something very special about the word of God – it does what it says. Let’s read Isaiah 55:10-11:

Isaiah 55:10-11
10| For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11| So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

The Word of God has power in ITSELF to do the very thing it says. “IT” shall accomplish that which I please, “IT” shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. That word ITSELF.

Now, notice something here. The WORD ITSELF will do what He PLEASES – IT, THE WORD, will do what God is pleased with. Remind you of a few verses?

  • Philippians 2:13 – God will work in you to will and to do according to His good PLEASURE.
  • John 8:29 – Christ always did those things that PLEASE His Father.
  • Hebrews 11:6 – Without faith it is impossible to PLEASE God.
  • And now Isaiah 55:11 – The word that proceeds out of His mouth will accomplish that which He is PLEASED with.

Can you see that each of these verses talk about the PLEASURE of God?

Philippians says God will work in us according to His good pleasure. This is exactly what He did in Christ because Christ always did those things that God was pleased with. But FAITH was necessary for it to happen. And now we see that it is the WORD that does the things that God is pleased with. Can you see a connection between FAITH, and the WORD that WORKS?

I promised to show you what faith is in six simple verses from the Gospel of Matthew. And so let’s go there.

Matthew 8:5-10
5| And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, 6| And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7| And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8| The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9| For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10| When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Did you see there what faith is? Jesus shows us EXACTLY what it is. In fact, Jesus had never seen anything like this before among the Jews. He “marvelled” – He stopped and says, Wow! Did I just hear what I heard? Everyone – pay attention to what this man just said. Because THIS IS WHAT FAITH IS! This is faith in its greatness!

The Centurion’s servant was very sick. He wanted him to be healed. And so Jesus says He will come and heal the servant. But the Centurion says, no, no, no. You don’t need to come and heal my servant. Just speak the “word only” and my servant will be healed.

What was it that the Centurion expected to heal his servant? THE WORD ONLY. He didn’t need Jesus to come and lay His hands on him. He knew that there was power in the Word of God ITSELF. He had an illustration of this in his occupation as a Roman centurion. He was the leader of a hundred men. And his word had authority. Whatever he commanded his men to do, they would do it. He recognized the authority in the word of Christ, which was the word of God – that whatever God said, it would happen. And so he knew that all Christ had to do to heal his servant, was to speak the word ONLY. Nothing else was needed. Just the Word of God which ITSELF would do the very thing it speaks of.

Matthew 8:13
And Jesus said unto the centurion, go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

As thou hast believed, so be it unto you. If you believe the word that I have spoken, it will happen, because it has to do what it says! It cannot return void, but it will accomplish the thing that God has sent it to do!

And so, what is faith? Evidently faith is the recognition that the word of God has power in itself to do EXACTLY what it says, and then expecting that word to do it!

Or as Alonzo T. Jones defines it here in the book, Lessons on Faith:

A.T. Jones – Lessons on Faith, Chapter Two
FAITH is the expecting the word of God to do what it says, and the depending upon that word to do what it says.

It’s not hard, is it? I spent so many years trying to figure out what faith is, and when I read the book Lessons on Faith, which is a compilation of Jones and Waggoner articles, and they showed me this, it was like a big bright light went on inside my head. And then, the “ding” moment turned to a “daah” moment. Of course! Isn’t this how God created the world? He said, let there be light! And there was light!

It’s simple. God’s word will do what it says. And what it does is what God is pleased with. And so if I have faith, the word of God will work in me to will and to DO the things that God is pleased with. Without faith, I cannot please God, because FAITH will bring the working of the WORD into my life!

Whatever it says, it will do it, but I have to believe it, expect it, and depend on it! And this all happens through FAITH.

Would you like another example of this?

Matthew 9:20-22
20| And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: 21| For she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole. 22| But Jesus turned Him about, and when He saw her, He said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.  

Here again Jesus shows us what faith is. This woman had been suffering for twelve years. She had tried everything, and spent all her money on visiting doctors and trying their prescriptions. Not only was she out of money, and her health getting worse every day, but she was severely discouraged and depressed.  But one day she heard about Jesus, and hope sprung up in her heart. And so she determined to find Him, but when she did, He was surrounded by a huge crowd. But she was determined and she pushed her way through, saying that if she could just touch the hem of His garment, she would be made whole.

And she did! And she was healed. What was it that Jesus said brought healing to her? Her FAITH. What is faith? Expecting the word of God to do what it says, and depending on it. And so this woman ALSO recognized that there was power in the word of God. She knew that IT would do what it said.

Which word? Notice here that she had implicit faith that if she only just touched the very hem or border of Christ’s garment, she would be healed. She didn’t even need for Him to touch her! Come to Malachi 4:2:

Malachi 4:2
Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

This is the word of God. The Sun of righteousness is Jesus Christ. And it says that there will be healing in His “WINGS”. In the original Hebrew, this word that is translated “WINGS” is kanaph. And it means, “an edge or extremity”. This same word, kanaph is used in Numbers 15:38 where the children of Israel are told to “make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribbon of blue”.

Numbers 15:38
Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue.

Where it says, “borders”, or hem, the original word is kanaph. Jesus had a ribbon of blue on the border of His robe. And in Malachi 4:2 it said there would be healing in “His” border – in the hem. AND SO this woman BELIEVED that the word of God would do what it says, and she said, If I may but touched His garment, I shall be healed. And she touched the hem of His garment as was immediately healed.

And Jesus said, Your FAITH has made you whole! Because she believed the Word of God as written in Malachi 4:2: She depended on that word, and she was made whole.

Faith is so simple isn’t it?! To recognize that there is power in the word to do what it says, and then expecting it to do what it says.

This is why it says in Titus 1:2 that we worship a

Titus 1:2
…God that cannot lie…

Because whatever He says, that Word that comes out of His mouth, will do exactly what it says.

What an awesome God!

In our next study, we will see that it was by the word, through faith, that the Father lived His live in Jesus Christ.