“Faith is . . . the convincing evidence of realities that are not seen.”—HEBREWS 11:1, footnote.
1. How should we feel about our faith?
2, 3. (a) How do we benefit when we have faith? (b) What questions will we now consider?
2 Jehovah gave his dear Son so that everyone who has faith in Jesus can have his sins forgiven. This makes it possible for people to be Jehovah’s friends and to live forever. (John 6:44, 65; Romans 6:23) How kind Jehovah is to us! Although we are sinners and deserve death, Jehovah saw that we were capable of doing good things. (Psalm 103:10) He helped us to learn the good news about Jesus and his sacrifice. When we began to have faith in Jesus and to follow him, we could look forward to everlasting life!—Read 1 John 4:9, 10.
3 But what more can we learn about faith? If we just know about what God has done for us and will do in the future, does that mean we have faith? Let us see what else we must do.
“EXERCISE FAITH IN YOUR HEART”
4. When we have faith, how does it affect us?
4 When we have faith in Jehovah and Jesus, we do not just know about what they have done and will do for us. We also have a strong desire to live in the way they have taught us to live. And we are eager to help others to get to know them. The apostle Paul said: “If you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”—Romans 10:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 4:13.
5. Why is faith so important, and what do we need to do to have strong faith? Give an example.
5 Clearly, to enjoy eternal life in God’s new world, we must have faith and we must keep our faith strong. Faith is like a plant. We need to keep watering a plant so that it will stay healthy and keep growing. But if we do not give it enough water, it will wither and die. In a similar way, we need to make sure that our faith stays “healthy” and keeps “growing.”—Titus 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Luke 22:32; Hebrews 3:12.
THE BIBLE DESCRIBES WHAT FAITH IS
6. In what two ways does Hebrews 11:1 describe faith?
6 At Hebrews 11:1, the Bible describes what faith is. (Read.) (1) Faith is “the assured expectation of what is hoped for.” The things we hope for include God’s promises about the future. For example, we are sure that wickedness will end and that there will be a new world. (2) Faith is “the evident demonstration,” or the convincing evidence, “of realities that are not seen.” We know that Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, the angels, and the Kingdom in heaven exist, even though we cannot see them. (Hebrews 11:3) How can we show that we truly have faith in God’s promises and in the things we cannot see? We do that by the way we live our life and by what we say and do.
7. How does Noah’s example help us to understand what it means to have faith? (See opening picture.)
7 What do we learn from Noah about faith? The apostle Paul said that Noah, “after receiving divine warning of things not yet seen, showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” (Hebrews 11:7) Because Noah had faith in what Jehovah told him, he built that gigantic ark. Perhaps his neighbors asked him why he was building the ark. We can be sure that Noah did not keep quiet. The Bible says that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) He warned people that God was going to bring a flood to destroy the wicked. He probably told them exactly what Jehovah had told him: “I have decided to put an end to all flesh, because the earth is full of violence on account of them,” and “I am going to bring floodwaters upon the earth to destroy from under the heavens all flesh that has the breath of life. Everything on the earth will perish.” Then Noah must have explained to the people what they needed to do to survive. Jehovah had commanded: “You must go into the ark.”—Genesis 6:13, 17, 18.
8. What did James say about faith?
8 James too wrote about faith. He likely did this soon after the apostle Paul had written to the Hebrews. James wrote: “Show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18) James explained that to have faith, we need to do more than just believe. The demons believe that God exists, but they do not have faith in Jehovah. Instead, they strongly oppose him. (James 2:19, 20) On the other hand, when someone has faith, he will please God by doing good works, or good deeds. That is what Abraham did. James wrote: “Was not Abraham our father declared righteous by works after he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was active along with his works and his faith was perfected by his works.” James then emphasized that faith without works is useless by saying: “Just as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”—James 2:21-23, 26.
9, 10. What does it mean to exercise faith in the Son?
9 More than 30 years later, John wrote his Gospel and three letters. Like other Bible writers, John understood what faith is. Many times in his writings, John used the Greek verb that is sometimes translated “exercise faith” in English.
We exercise faith in the Son by obeying Jesus
10 For example, John explained: “The one who exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; the one who disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” (John 3:36) To exercise faith in the Son, we must obey Jesus. In fact, from John’s writings, we see that Jesus often said that to have everlasting life, we must exercise faith in him and his Father.—John 3:16; 6:29, 40; 11:25, 26; 14:1, 12.
11. How can we show that we are grateful to Jehovah for knowing the truth?
11 Jehovah used his holy spirit to help us understand the truth about him and his Son and to help us have faith in them. (Read Luke 10:21.) How can we show that we are grateful to Jehovah for all he has done? We must never stop thanking him for allowing us to have a relationship with him by means of Jesus, who is “the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) And we need to keep strengthening our faith by always praying to Jehovah and studying his Word.—Ephesians 6:18; 1 Peter 2:2.
12. If we have faith, what will we do?
12 We should keep showing by our actions that we have strong faith in Jehovah’s promises. For example, we keep preaching to people about God’s Kingdom and helping them become disciples of Jesus. We also keep doing “what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) And we work hard to “strip off the old personality with its practices” because we do not want anything to damage our friendship with Jehovah.—Colossians 3:5, 8-10.
FAITH IN GOD IS PART OF OUR FOUNDATION
13. How important is “faith in God”? How does the Bible describe it, and why?
13 The Bible says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he exists and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6, footnote) The Bible also shows that “faith in God” is one of the first things that true Christians must have. It is part of our “foundation.” (Hebrews 6:1) But besides faith, we need other important qualities in order to have a friendship with Jehovah and keep it.—Read 2 Peter 1:5-7; Jude 20, 21.
14, 15. Compared with love, how important is faith?
14 Bible writers referred to faith more than to any other quality. Does this mean that faith is the most important quality we need to have?
15 Paul compared faith with love. He wrote: “If I have all the faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2) Jesus said that “the greatest commandment in the Law” is to love God. (Matthew 22:35-40) Love helps us to have many other qualities that please God. For example, the Bible says that love “believes all things.” So love will help us to believe, or have faith in, everything that God tells us in the Bible.—1 Corinthians 13:4, 7.
16, 17. What does the Bible say about faith and love? Which of these qualities is greater, and why?
16 Both faith and love are very important qualities, and Bible writers often mentioned them together. Paul encouraged his brothers to “put on the breastplate of faith and love.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8) Peter wrote about Jesus: “Though you never saw him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, yet you exercise faith in him.” (1 Peter 1:8) James asked his anointed brothers: “Did not God choose those who are poor from the world’s standpoint to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom, which he promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5) John wrote that God’s commandment is that “we have faith in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another.”—1 John 3:23.
17 But Paul also wrote: “Now, however, these three remain: faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) In the future, we will no longer need to have faith in God’s promises about his new world because they will have come true. We will be living the wonderful life that the Bible talks about. But we will always need to have love for God and for people. In fact, our love for them will keep growing forever.
JEHOVAH HAS BLESSED OUR FAITH
18, 19. What has resulted because God’s people have faith today, and who deserves the praise for this?
18 Jehovah’s people in our time have faith in God’s Kingdom and support it. And they love one another. This is because they allow God’s spirit to guide the way they live. (Galatians 5:22, 23) What has been the result? Over eight million brothers and sisters around the world have peace and unity in their congregations. Clearly, faith and love are powerful qualities.
19 This unity has been possible only with the help of our God. He deserves the praise for it. (Isaiah 55:13) We are truly grateful that he has made it possible for us to be “saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) Jehovah will continue to help many more people to have faith in him. Then, finally, the whole earth will be filled with perfect, righteous, and happy people who will praise Jehovah forever!