“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This is how the author of Hebrews describes faith at the beginning of the eleventh chapter. I wanted to take just a few moments to think about that some more: “What is faith?” Can we describe this a little more concretely, so that we can distinguish a false faith from the true?
A good definition of faith would be “an initial decisive act of trust and belief in Jesus Christ AND a continuing attitude of trust evidenced in action.” Both the initial act and the continuing action are necessary to provide evidence of faith. Marriage would be a good analogy of this faith. On your wedding day you took the “initial decisive act” when you said “I do,” but you continue in the marriage by the ongoing actions of a married person. So there is a one-time unrepeatable decisive act followed by many actions based on that initial act.
Another definition of faith would be “a wholesale surrender and an embracing of Christ that is expressed in actions requiring faith.” The Bible describes the initial wholesale surrender as “being united with Christ” or as “a baptism into Christ.” This latter phrase is not referring to water baptism, but is talking about a spiritual coming together as one.
Faith involves the whole person, so it is not just an agreement to intellectual or doctrinal facts (although you must agree with certain foundational truths). It is not just an emotional response to a compelling speaker (although you may be emotionally moved). It is, instead, an irreversible act of the will that is sealed by the Holy Spirit wherein you unreservedly surrender all of your being into God’s hands and cast yourself on His mercy for salvation. It is hearing the gospel, and believing the gospel, then acting in faith.
How would you describe your faith? Was there a time when you took that initial decisive act to fully and unreservedly trust Christ? When was that? Did that initial act result in changes in your life? In your life since that initial decisive act, has there been evidence of ongoing faith that manifests itself in actions requiring trust in the invisible God? What evidence would someone find in your life that would prove your faith in a powerful God?
Faith that evidences trust in the invisible God is the faith that pleases God and assures us of heaven (2 Peter 1:10-11). This is the faith that gives hope, which becomes an anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:19). Make sure that you have this kind of faith. SDG rmb 11/27/2015