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Faith (Heb. אֱמוּנָה "emunah"; Gr. πίστις "pistis"), or "faithfulness", is confidence in what is held to be true. For this reason, it is based on verifiable testimony from trustworthy sources. The history of the people of God has many examples of those who trusted God, the source of all truth[1]. The writer to the Hebrews provides a chronological list of these "heroes of the faith"[2].

Faith is holding tight to that which is trusted even when definitive proof has not been presented.[3] As a spiritual gift[4], it only found in those who have come to God not only believing He exists, but that He is personal and powerful[5].

Ordinarily, the message of the gospel must be heard in order for someone to believe it.[6] After God graciously awakens the faith within a person, they will trust His Word and then show that they believe Him by their good works[7].

There are degrees of faith (trust) which people can demonstrate. On one level, there is an intellectual assent to what is known to be true. For, instance, knowing that there is one true God is a good thing, but trusting Him enough to change is beyond the ability of those not touched by the grace of God[8]. On a spiritual level, faith that changes one's nature results in good works[9] such as those of Abraham and Rahab.

The collected beliefs of believers is known as "the Faith"[10] which defines Christians. This faith is accepted as absolute truth, for which persecution and even death is to be expected.[11] These beliefs, to be binding to the conscience, must be drawn from the Bible[12].

Meaning and Usage

The root word for אֱמוּנָה ("faith/faithfulness" in the Old Testament) is אָמַן "aman", meaning "to support, confirm, be faithful". This is also the root to the word "amen" (Heb. אָמֵן ; Gr. ἀμήν) (meaning "verily, truly, so be it") and אֱמֶת "emeth" (meaning "truth, right, estabablished").

In the New Testament, the noun πίστις is from the verb πιστεύω, which means "to believe, to trust, to be convinced".

Faithfulness

See also Fruit of the Spirit

The full noun emunah is used first in the account of Aaron and Hur holding up the hands of Moses. By holding up his hands, Moses showed the troops below that God was with them. When he got tired, his friends made sure his hands were "steady"[13]. Translated as "truth", this word affirms that God is a dependable Rock that can always be trusted[14].

The idea of faithfullness among men is first seen in the account of the building of the first temple. The workers who labored were trusted by their overseers[15]. While largely used as an attribute of God, those who trust Him can expect His blessings as they live their lives[16].

Faithfulness is evidence of faith within a believer. The last use of emunah[17] is translated with pistis by Paul in two places[18]. The phrase "the just shall live by faith" can be rendered "the righteous shall live by faithfulness". This means that a believer will remain faithful to God, as seen by a consistent life. As a fruit of the Spirit, pistis not so much that which brings one to faith, but rather the faith that is evident to those who see the believer's life.

The Faith of Christ

Throughout the Old Testament the faithfulness of Yahweh is clear. Older translations seem to indicate the same faithfulness as found in Jesus Christ. The phrase πίστεως (Ἰησοῦ) Χριστοῦ (pisteos Christou) links the person of Christ with the faith, both in genitive (possessive) case. Modern translations translate noun πίστεως as "faith in" to reflect the general use of the verb form. This can be seen in the use of the noun and the verb together in Paul's defense of justification by faith[19][20].

Jesus showed a faithfulness to His purpose, both in life[21] and in death<Matt 26:39,42</ref>. In His humanity, Jesus taught that He was "one with the Father"[22]. Whether this singleness of purpose is meant by the old translation "faith of Christ" is teaching this is up to interpretation.

Belief

Faith is seen in those who are trust, or believe (Gr. πιστεύω "pisteúo") something or someone. The root word for the Greek πίστις (pistis) is πείθω (peitho), which means "to persuade, be persuaded, trust, be confident". It is, therefore, based on evidence.

Though Jesus marveled at the lack of faith among his closest followers[23], the sick and hurting were confident in His ability to heal[24]. According to Jesus, trusting God is not a big "work"[25], but the religious leaders didn't understand the power of faith[26].

Trust

After Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to his followers and ascended to Heaven[27], the Apostles spread the word to the world[28]. Paul continued that work all over the Roman empire[29].

Paul argued that the faith needed to come to God did not depend on those who heard him preach. Instead, guilty sinners, who were made right before God through the life and work of Jesus[30]. To a troubled church he addressed the need for faith in the power of God[31].

Verses

  1. John 14:6; 17:17 (Link)
  2. Heb. 11:4-31 (Link)
  3. Hebrews 11:1 (Link)
  4. Gal 5:22 (Link)
  5. Hebrews 11:6 (Link)
  6. Romans 10:17 (Link)
  7. Eph. 2:8-10 (Link)
  8. James 2:19 (Link)
  9. James 2:18-24 (Link)
  10. Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; 16:5; Rom 1:5; 14:1; 1 Cor 16:13; 2 Cor 13:5; Gal 1:23 (Link)
  11. Matt. 5:11-12 (Link)
  12. 2 Tim. 3:16-17 (Link)
  13. Exo 17:12 (Link)
  14. Deu 32:4; see also Ps 33:4; 89:49; 96:13; 98:3; 100:5; 119:30 (Link)
  15. 2 Kings 12:15; 22:7 (Link)
  16. Pr 28:20; Hab 2:4 (Link)
  17. Hab 2:4 (Link)
  18. Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11 (Link)
  19. Rom 3:22 (Link)
  20. For further study:Rom 3:26; Gal 2:20,22; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:9 (Link)
  21. Matt 11:27 (Link)
  22. John 10:30; 17:11,21 (Link)
  23. Mat 6:30; 8:26 (Link)
  24. Mat 8:10; 9:2, 22, 29; 15:28 (Link)
  25. Mat 17:20; 21:21 (Link)
  26. Mat 23:23 (Link)
  27. 1 Cor 15:1-11 (Link)
  28. Acts 6:7; 11:24; 14:27; 16:5; 20:21 (Link)
  29. Rom 1:8; Gal 1:23; Eph 1:12; Col 1:4; 2 Thes 1:3 (Link)
  30. Rom 3:20-30; 4:5-16; 6:20-23 (Link)
  31. 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14-17; 2 Cor 4:13 (Link)
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