What is faith?
The dictionary would define "faith" this way: "A confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, and idea, or a thing. A belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. Theology: a secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will."
I would have to agree with the definitions above.
Faith is simply trusting that something is, even though you cannot necessarily prove it. For example, whenever a person opens a can of soda, and takes a drink from the can, they exercise "faith" that what is about to enter their mouth is, in fact, what the cans advertises on the outside. They have faith in the producer of the drink that there are not impurities or poisons in the can. When a person gets on an airplane they exhibit faith that that plane will take them to their destination. When you drive your car you have faith that the air bag will deploy in a crash. Note, that most of this is not "blind faith" in that you have some assurance that things will work out as you believe.
In Christianity, our faith is to trust in the Word of God, that God will do as He promises. That He will bless those who follow His commands, and that He will punish those who rebel against Him. Christians put their faith in Christ as their Savior, trusting that God will accept the payment of Christ's suffering on the cross, as complete payment for their sins, thus allowing them to enter Heaven and to never experience the fires of Hell.
How does faith work?
Like the illustrations that I gave above. In Christianity, we by faith, trust God's Word. We read the Bible and by faith accept that "all of it" is true. But it is not a blind faith! The Bible claims to be the very words of God, and as such must be 100% true and accurate. Therefore, whenever it speaks about any subject, science, medicine, history, etc., then it must be 100% accurate. As we see the Bible tested and tested, and always proved true, then this increases our faith. When the Bible speaks of the wickedness of the heart of man, and we observe it all around us, and sometimes even within us, then again our faith is increased. The miracles and the prophesies only add more to our faith.
With this faith we have obtained from reading God's Word, we then take action based on it. We avoid certain things because God's Word say to, and we, in time, see the benefit, which increases our faith. We put faith in Christ to forgive our sins and make us new creations, and when we see the great changes in former sinners and in ourselves, then again our faith is encouraged.
Where does faith come from?
The saving faith and the faith to believe in God comes only from God!
"It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." - [Ephesians 2:8]
Faith is a "gift" of God. But how do we get the gift?
"Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." [Romans 10:17]
We receive the "gift" of faith as we listen to the words of Christ, which is simply reading and studying the Bible, and listening to sermons about Christ. Christ is the Living Word of God, and our faith comes from the studying and understanding of the Bible.
Why is faith so important?
Because the opposite of faith is doubt, and doubt will not bring salvation, nor allow anyone to trust in God. Without faith in God then we are lost. God calls us to live by faith, "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." [Romans 1:17]
We must live by faith, because God commands it--it is the only way to be saved.
Can unbelievers have faith?
Not as unbelievers, because the very term "unbelievers" shouts that they don't have faith. An unbeliever who "gets" the faith, or receives it, is no longer an "unbeliever" but a "believer". I was an unbeliever for 34 years, lost in Roman Catholicism, and then I started to read the Bible, and in about 30 days, I had enough faith to trust Christ, by repenting of my sins, believing in Christ, and submitting to His Lordship over my life. So yes, an unbeliever can receive faith, if they read the Bible, and/or somehow hear the message of Christ.
How does faith grow?
Simply as the believer learns more about Christ. Remember that faith came by "hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Well, as we continue to read the Bible and study books, articles, go to church and listen carefully to the Sermons about Christ, then and "only then" do we grow in faith."
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:
Bible Bulletin Board
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Online since 1986