What is “Faith” as used in Scripture? In the New Testament, the Greek word is “pistis”, and is translated as “faith” in nearly every instance. It is derived from the Greek word “peitho”, which is translated “persuasion”. (also translated as confidence, assurance, trust, obedience). Persuasion, or “peitho” means to “be persuaded by clear argument, evidence”. This, then, is the root of “faith” – not a feeling or something worked up or hoped for, but a firm assurance, persuasion based on solid evidence and intelligent argument.
Faith is also used as a verb, “pisteuo”, which is translated “believe”. As a verb, this word means that it is an action of some kind, not only a mental belief”. To “believe”, then, means to take action regarding what one has “faith” about.
The most fundamental statement in the New Testament regarding “faith” is in Romans 10:17. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. This “Word of God” means the written Scriptures” which the context of Romans 10:17 bears out.
Too often “faith” is used as a feeling worked up that somehow inspires a form of confidence that something will happen, and it is often used to describe “christian” slogans, such as “when God closes one door He always opens another”. These are not faith, but are wishful thinking and have no solid basis in Scripture.
Sometimes we read the phrase “the faith”, and this means the body of doctrinal beliefs expounded in the Scriptures. For instance, in Luke 18:8, Jesus asks, “when the Son of Man comes shall He find “the faith”on the earth. Unfortunately, in many English translations, the word “the” is left out, although it is there in the Greek. So, this question of Jesus is about whether or not people will believe the body of Bible doctrines when He returns. It is NOT about some kind of “faith” built on human hopes and emotions, nor merely about morality.
I.Romans 10:17 : “so then Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ”.
A. “ Hearing” is the word “akouae” which simply means “something heard”. Now, hearing in the Bible sense is really more about “listening” or “taking heed”. This means that a person must consider what is “heard or read” and willingly takes whatever action is necessary. This is what Jesus means whenever He says, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear”.
B. The word for “word” here is “rhema”.
1. Often this is misused to mean “a personal word from the Lord, either by some kind of inner impression, or more often through the reading of one or more verses in which the reader “receives a personal message”. The problem with this is that the context is almost always ignored, and the reader (hearer) can make the personal word anything they desire at the moment, depending on the current circumstances.
This is NOT the meaning of “rhema”. It means a words from the Lord, but the context always determines what is meant. The Lord has spoken through His written Word, and that is what is clearly meant here, not some “private and personal inspirational word” as many teach. This will ALWAYS lead to misinterpretation and a false faith.
Be very careful of devotional books that pick out a verse or two but do not consider the context. Devotional reading can be a spiritually dangerous thing, leading to false faith.
“Rhema” is used to show that God speaks through His Written Word. If someone wants to hear from God, it will always first and foremost be through His Word.
2. The context of Romans 10:17 is that of someone going out to preach the written Word of God. Unless people hear the Word of God, that is, the Word which He has given, there can be no faith. Faith is believing what God has said, so there must be someone who is commissioned to go and tell what God has said.
Read Isaiah 6:8; 52:7; 53:1.
At no time is any preacher or teacher ever given the right to proclaim their own version of God’s message. It is extremely unfortunate, that The Word is not regularly studied, verses are taken out of context, and the Truth’s are NOT the message that the Holy Spirit initially gave.
I have heard many, many well-intentioned people say that the Word can mean different things to people at different times; that one can read a verse and get one truth, then later read it and get another truth. This is WRONG. Truth does not change. The only thing that can change is how to apply the UNCHANGING Truth.
The unfortunate result is that the Word of God becomes a personal matter only, and the message that the Holy Spirit gave is no longer absolute. Each person can make their own “truth”, have their own interpretation. The result is confusion, division.
3. Faith is by hearing someone preach God’s Word clearly and properly, keeping it in context. The writer, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is saying that saving faith comes from hearing someone preach the Gospel from the written Word of God.
Further, it shows that “faith” is the result of hearing and believing God’s written Word faithfully proclaimed, faith is not simply a strong emotional conviction.
The clear and obvious conclusion: Faith is the result of hearing the preaching and teaching of Gcd’s Word, (or personal reading and study), done with proper study and preparation. The point of faith is to act upon the Truth presented in the written Word. This is the definition of biblical faith.
God’s written Word is the source of Faith, inspired by the Holy Spirit, studied and understood properly. Jesus Christ has given the church gifts of people who are called, trained, and gifted in the study and teaching of God’sWord, Ephesians 4:11. Also note Romans 12:7. This is where biblical faith comes from, and why teachers need to be very careful about what they teach (read James 3:1-ff to see how serious it is to be a teacher of God’s Word).
II. Ephesians 6:17 : “…the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”.
As with Romans 10:17, the “rhema” of God is the written Word, given by the Lord. This word is proclaimed, and is what the Holy Spirit uses to speak to the hearts and minds of people. From this True Faith can become a reality. The Holy Spirit does not need miracles, experiences, or anything else. The Word of God is sufficient. Compare Hebrews 4:12.
Notice what the Lord Jesus says in Luke 16:19-31. This is a true story, not a parable, about two men. Notice what is said about the power of God’s written Word in verses 29-31. Clearly, the Lord Jesus is teaching that True Faith is from believing God’s written Word, nothing else.
III. Hebrews 4:2 : “…the Gospel was preached…but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with Faith in them that heard it”.
The context here is that of the people in the Old Testament, that is, the people of Israel, who had the Word of God, the promises, and so much more, but did not believe what had been preached to them. As in Isaiah 6:9,10 and Isaiah 53:1, the people of Israel heard but did not listen.
The Gospel is not only in the New Testament, but began in the Old Testament. Read Genesis 15:6 and Galatians 3:6. The apostle Paul spent many years studying the Old Testament after he was saved (Acts 9), and from that he received the message of the Gospel, Galatians 2:12.
IV. Hebrews 11: This is often referred to as “The Hall of Faith”. It begins with a brief definition of faith, and then goes on through the remainder of the chapter to explain the definition.
Verse 1 gives a description and brief definition of Faith; the rest of the chapter provides examples so that others would see how True Faith operates.
Basically, chapter 11 catalogues a great many people who, having heard God’s Word and believing it, acted upon it. Once again, here is the meaning of True Faith. No one in this chapter acted out of simply a strong feeling, a set of circumstances, or their own thoughts/hopes/dreams. God’s Word was more important to them than any experience or consequence. This was the “assurance” and “conviction” – God’s unchanging Word. It is the only thing on Earth that does not change, can be trusted regardless of any circumstance.
V. 2 Peter 2:1: “but there were false prophets also among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you….” Here Peter is warning people that, just as there were false prophets among the Israelites, so there will be false teachers in the churches. This is a solemn warning, not to be overlooked. Read the rest of the chapter and see how dangerous this can be. Read Isaiah 30, and note verse 10.
There are so many other examples, but these will suffice to show clearly that True Faith is the result of: 1- hearing (or studying) the written Word of God; 2- believing what is written; 3- acting upon the truth written.
Context will ALWAYS be determinate of the truth written, proper study is an absolute must! Remember, James warns those who would be teachers who are not called or prepared, James 3:1.
The blessing of “hearing” God’s Word, believing it, and acting upon it is available to anyone who will listen. Faith is not a special feeling or something only a special few people can have, it is free for all.