What Is Faith?
HOW would you define faith? Some equate it with blind belief. Influential American essayist and journalist H. L. Mencken once called faith “an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.”
The Bible, in contrast, describes faith as being neither blind nor illogical. God’s Word says: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.”—Hebrews 11:1.
Given the different opinions about faith, let us consider the answers to the following questions:
• How is the Bible’s definition different from what many refer to when they talk about faith?
• Why is it vital that we develop the kind of faith that the Bible describes?
• How can you build strong faith?
A Title Deed and Solid Evidence
At the time of the writing of the Bible book of Hebrews, the Greek term translated “assured expectation” was commonly used. It often appeared in business documents and carried the idea of a guarantee of future possession of something. Therefore, one reference work suggests that Hebrews 11:1 could be translated: “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.”
If you have ever bought an item from a reputable company and then waited for it to be delivered, you have exercised that type of faith. The sales receipt in your hand gave you reason for faith in the company from which you bought the item. In a sense, that receipt was your title deed, your guarantee that you would receive what you purchased. If you had lost the receipt or had thrown it away, you would have lost the proof of your claim of ownership. Similarly, those who have faith that God will fulfill his promises are guaranteed to receive what they hope for. On the other hand, those who do not have faith, or who lose it, are not entitled to receive the things God promises.—James 1:5-8.
The second expression at Hebrews 11:1, translated “evident demonstration,” carries the idea of producing evidence that contradicts that which only appears to be factual. For instance, the sun appears to revolve around the earth—rising in the east, moving through the sky, and setting in the west. However, evidence from astronomy and mathematics reveals that the earth is not the center of the solar system. Once you become familiar with that evidence and accept it as true, you have faith that the earth revolves around the sun—despite what your eyes tell you. Your faith is not blind. On the contrary, it gives you the ability to see things as they really are, not merely as they seem to be.
How Important Is Strong Faith?
This is the type of faith that the Bible encourages—strong faith built on solid evidence, even if it requires that we adjust our beliefs. Such faith is vital. The apostle Paul wrote: “Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him.”—Hebrews 11:6, New Century Version.
There are many challenges to developing strong faith. But if you take the four steps discussed on the following pages, you can succeed.