What is faith and why is it important to have faith? Nowadays, faith is considered an abstract concept. Even while growing up in a Christian home and attending church every Sunday, it can be difficult to understand the idea of faith. Associate pastor and youth pastor Enrique Mayen described faith as “having knowledge, passion, and free will.” While that is a great start in defining what faith is, where can we find proof of that in scripture?
Let’s start with knowledge. Knowledge, in the context of faith, is the act of learning about God. Through the act of knowing who God is, we are then called into the action of seeking Him in faith. We read several instances in scripture about people exhibiting their faith by first knowing something about the identity of Jesus, whether through the miracles he carried out or the reputation he acquired. One example of this is the Centurion written about in Luke 7:1-10. The account says that the Centurion’s servant had fallen ill, but when the word spread that Jesus was in Capernaum, the Centurion knew that Jesus could heal his servant. From there on, we read that Jesus heard about the Centurion’s situation and wanted to heal the ill servant. Jesus, though he had never met the Centurion, was amazed at the Centurion’s faith. “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:9 ESV) The knowledge the Centurion had regarding Jesus is what pushed him to take action in his faith. Faith takes just one act of seeking Jesus, but it requires that we know who God is in our lives in order for the action to take place.
Another instance comes from Jairus: a synagogue ruler with a daughter who had fallen severely ill. As a synagogue ruler, he grew up relentlessly studying the Jewish law — also known as the Torah — and other aspects of the Jewish faith. This man knew the religion inside and out, yet all that knowledge couldn’t give him the ability to heal his daughter. Knowledge alone is not a sign of faith. Using that knowledge and continuing to believe it through an act of faith is what real faith looks like. Jairus came looking for Jesus and when he found him, Jairus fell to his knees and implored that Jesus heal his daughter. While there isn’t anything written about what Jairus knew about Jesus, it’s obvious that he allowed whatever knowledge he had to build his faith in Jesus’ ability to heal his daughter. Even as a servant told the two men that Jairus’ daughter had died, he still believed that Jesus could heal her when Jesus encouraged him, saying, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe, and she will be saved.” (Luke 8:50, CSB).
The act of being afraid or fearful can cause all sense of knowledge and faith to go out the window. Jesus knew this and called that fear out from Jairus. We can have a clear and scriptural understanding of who God is, but once that fear creeps in we forget all that knowledge and only focus on our circumstance. Reading the Bible often keeps this knowledge of Him fresh in our minds and allows the Holy Spirit to bring parts of that truth to the forefront of our minds when something goes wrong in life or when we struggle. Studying other people’s perspectives on Christianity, the Bible, and other topics related to faith can help us grow in our knowledge as well. A Bible scholar or even a close friend may have an excellent way of explaining something that might be otherwise difficult to understand. Knowing who God is can help grow our faith in Him. Most Christians have a basic knowledge of who God is, but it tends to end there. Paul writes to Timothy, “14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2nd Timothy 3:14-15, CSB). Continuing to grow in our knowledge of God helps us to grow in our faith in Him.
Media by Russell Lamb.