Faith Defined by God
Do you possess faith? If so, how do you know? Most Christians say they have faith, but when asked to define faith their answers vary greatly.
Jesus’ apostle Paul challenged the Christians in the city of Corinth concerning their faith when he wrote,
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!
(2 Corinthians 13:5 NASB)
Yet, how can we effectively evaluate our faith when ambiguous, subjective opinions blur its definition beyond objective recognition? Fortunately, we do not have to rely on trendy speculation to understand faith’s definition or to know whether we possess it. In His Scriptures, God provided His definition of the faith He desires everyone to obtain.
Faith is the substantiation of things being hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 Bagby Translation)
The Greek word pístis means “trust, belief, or faith.” The context in which a biblical writer used pístis dictates whether a translator should render it as belief, trust, or faith. The word “faith” best matches the context of Hebrews chapter 11.
According to God’s definition, faith consists of two essentials: substantiation and conviction. Sustaining both elements proves crucial, for the absence of either fails to fulfill the faith God expects of us.
Hupóstasis, the Greek word translated “substantiation,” forms a compound noun. The first part of the word, hupó, means “under, sub-.” The second part, stásis , means “standing, -stantiation.” God explains that faith requires hupóstasis (substantiation), validation based on the examination of reliable evidence. Once substantiated, an issue under consideration becomes knowledge, a matter of fact. …
Conviction must accompany substantiation to fulfill the faith God expects of us. When substantiated facts had become working knowledge, writers of ancient Greek described that circumstance using the word élengchos, translated “conviction” in Hebrews 11:11. Conviction demands Christians take action based on what they know. Without trusting action, conviction does not exist.
The remainder of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews provides examples of conviction that establish trusting action as indispensable to faith. Consider the list below, a sampling of the trusting actions (conviction) laid out in the chapter to support God’s Hebrews 11:1 definition of faith.
· “By faith we understand” (Hebrews 11:3 NASB)
· “By faith Abel offered” (Hebrews 11:4 NASB)
· “By faith Noah … prepared an ark” (Hebrews 11:7 NASB)
· “By faith Abraham … obeyed by going out” (Hebrews 11:8 NASB)
· “By faith Abraham … offered up Isaac” (Hebrews 11:17 NASB)
· By faith Moses … was hidden for three months by his parents (Hebrews 11:23 NASB)
· By faith Moses … refused to be called a son of Pharoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment” (Hebrews 11:24-25 NASB)
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“Were not our hearts burning within us … while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 NASB)