The Bible’s Viewpoint
True Faith—What Is It?
“WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM WELL, FOR HE THAT APPROACHES GOD MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS AND THAT HE BECOMES THE REWARDER OF THOSE EARNESTLY SEEKING HIM.”—HEBREWS 11:6.
WHAT is faith? Some explain faith as a religious belief in God without solid proof of his existence. American journalist H. L. Mencken defined faith as “an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.” Is this true faith as described in the Bible? It is vital to have a clear understanding of what faith is because, as quoted above, ‘without faith it is impossible to please God.’
The Bible says: “Faith is being sure of the things we hope for.” (Hebrews 11:1, The New Testament in the Language of Today) Therefore, faith is founded on accurate knowledge, facts on which right decisions can be based. It requires not only belief but a reason for believing.
To illustrate: Perhaps you have a friend of whom you can say: “I trust that man. I can count on him to keep his word. I know that if I have a problem, he will come to my aid.” It is not likely that you would say that about someone you have known for only a day or two, is it? He would have to be someone who had proved his dependability time and again. It should be the same with religious faith, which should produce hope and conviction based on solid, dependable evidence.
Faith or Credulity?
Much of what passes for faith today is in reality credulity—a readiness to believe without a valid basis or reason. Credulity is often built on the shifting sands of emotion and superstition. This is not well-founded faith because it has no reliable basis for belief.
Credulity could cause one to jump to conclusions that may be out of harmony with Bible truth. Accordingly, the Bible warns against unfounded faith: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) The apostle Paul wrote: “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) The Bible does not promote credulity. It does encourage faith based on evidence.
Being able to discern true faith from credulity is a serious matter. An individual can be religious and yet not have true faith. Paul noted: “Faith is not a possession of all people.” (2 Thessalonians 3:2) But Bible-based faith is the possession of some people, and it does affect their lives.
True Faith Binds Man to God
Faith can be likened to a chain with links of confidence and trust that bind man to God. But this kind of faith is something that is cultivated; it is not something that we are born with. How can you develop true faith? The Bible explains: “Faith follows the thing heard. In turn the thing heard is through the word about Christ.”—Romans 10:17.
Therefore, you need to take time to get to know God and the teachings of his Son, Jesus Christ. This knowledge is not acquired without effort. (Proverbs 2:1-9) You must exert yourself to find out what the Bible says so as to be convinced of its reliability.
True faith, however, involves more than just possessing knowledge or believing that something is true. It also involves the heart—the seat of motivation. Romans 10:10 says: “With the heart one exercises faith.” What does this mean? As you meditate on godly things, building up appreciation for them, you allow the Bible’s message to sink deep into your heart. Faith grows and becomes stronger as you are motivated to act on God’s promises and as you see the evidence of his blessing.—2 Thessalonians 1:3.
What a precious possession true faith is! We benefit by being able to face difficult conditions with confidence in God, trusting in his ability to guide our steps and in his willingness to care for our needs. In addition, God’s Son, Jesus Christ, pointed to one long-term benefit of faith: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Everlasting life—what a marvelous gift to those having faith!
Faith in God’s promise to reward his servants gives one a fresh perspective on life. Hebrews 11:6 says that true faith involves belief in God’s ability to reward “those earnestly seeking him.” Clearly, then, true faith is not credulity, and it is much more than just believing that God exists. It involves an acceptance of God’s ability to act as a rewarder of those earnestly seeking him. Do you really and sincerely want to know God? If you do, then acquire accurate knowledge from his Word, the Bible, and your faith will be rewarded.—Colossians 1:9, 10.
[Picture Credit Line on page 26]
Drawings of Albrecht Dürer/Dover Publications, Inc.