What Is Faith?
- confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, an idea, or a thing.
- belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
- loyalty or allegiance to a person or thing; esp. fidelity to a promise.
- the theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
Faith indicates persistent action, devotion, and direction of self, and is often charged with emotion. When there is faith within someone, they become faithful, and when they have faith in someone, that loyalty can grow into a covenant. In the Hebrew Scriptures, this is the meaning of Heb. 'emunah. 'Emunah is also used to describe the covenant of marriage, as what the husband and wife have in each other. Faith can grow stronger or become weaker, changing with each situation. Life eventually puts it to the test.
Belief, Confidence, and other like terms
Here are some other words which cover much of the same turf as faith. In what ways do these words describe how you are toward God, or toward the gospel message?
Assurance is a confidence or sureness that is not rooted in your intellect. It usually comes about because of the action of someone else.
- the mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another.
- mental acceptance and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something.
'belief' vs. 'faith' :
- 'Beliefs' are existing ideas which one holds to; 'faith' looks toward what is to come.
- 'Belief' relates most to knowledge and understanding; 'faith' relates most to hope and trust.
- 'Belief' may or may not imply that the believer is certain, whereas 'faith' implies a level of confidence which approaches certainty.
Certainty is not a form of faith, but of knowledge, based on demonstrable evidence which is so strong that it can be fairly labeled 'proof'.
Confidence suggests less emotional intensity (or, at least, a much less visible intensity); it implies stronger grounds for assurance.
Conviction is a strongly-held belief or idea on spiritual or moral matters. It is something that often grows out of life experiences and hard thinking or meditation. For Dietrich Bonhoeffer, his convictions were expressed as a 'yes' to what God had in store for him, knowing full well that it could (and did) lead him to death at the hands of the Nazis.
In credence, the mind accepts and agrees to it, implying nothing about the grounds of proof.
Credibility happens when something or someone shows itself to be worthy of belief. It's given to a movement or person whose report or action stands up to hard thinking and/or discernment. It is something given by others, not grabbed through one's own actions.
If someone claims what they are doing is "God's move", that's a claim which may or may not be true. Discern whether this is so. If that person then says, "get in line with it, or be damned", then they are making a command. That's usually not theirs to do, and it is not God's way of doing things in a world after Christ rose. Their claim has no basis for credibility. If it were one of those few occasions when a command comes, God grants a sense of authority even non-believers and enemies can sense, and has built it into the character of the leaders God chooses.
Credit is a 'yes' of the mind on indirect grounds, such as the trustworthiness of the source. It is best used as a factor in a decision, not the basis of it.
Dependence suggests reliance on the help or support of someone else. It infers that without such help, the task at hand could be accomplished only with great difficulty, if at all. It also infers that the 'someone else' is of higher rank or esteem.
Reliance indicates a confident and trustful commitment toward another. If you're someone who runs a business or ministry, somewhere along the way you'll delegate responsibility to someone else for some important task. You are relying on them -- which doesn't make you an inferior, just someone wise enough to leave the task in the hands of someone better at it. Reliance on others can free your time to do what is yours to do. Reliance on God is trusting the real and original source of ability to get something done, more reliable than you are.
'Trust': see below.
We are not made right before God because of faith, but through faith.
Justifying or saving faith is how one enters into a right relationship with God, thanks to what Jesus did by dying for us.
You can also check the dictionary for these words.
Also check out this blog interview with Greg Boyd of Woodland Hills Church, on the role of doubt in faith.
faith experience : a conscious encounter with God himself or with an action of God, initiated by God, and having observable results in the lives of individuals and communities.