What is Faith?

Faith, Trust, and Belief all have the same root word in the Greek language.  Any time you see the word “faith,” “trust,” or “belief” in the Bible, these words are all translating the same idea: a trusting dependence or confidence in something or someone.

I am concerned that the way we throw around the words “faith” and “belief ” today, we have almost vacated them of any meaning close to their biblical definitions.  We encourage kids to “believe” in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and then we turn around and teach them to believe in God.  We tell others that we “have faith” in them, even though they are imperfect, created beings, and then exhort one another to “have faith” in God, the perfect Creator of all things.

What is faith?  The story of Charles Blondin illustrates nicely what faith is:

Charles Blondin was the greatest tightrope walker of his time.  One day, he decided to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, a distance of a quarter mile.  A large crowd gathered to watch his amazing acrobatic feats.

Not only did Blondin walk across the falls, but he did it multiple times, each time trying something more daring, each time gaining the crowds amazement and praise.  He was so skilled, he even took a wheelbarrow across the rope, there and back again.

When he got back, he addressed the crowd, “Who believes that I can cross these falls with a man sitting in this wheelbarrow?”

The crowd roared with their approval, “Yes, of course you can!  You are the greatest tightrope walker who ever lived!”

Blondin replied, “Then who will be the first to volunteer?”  The crowd was quiet, stunned into silence.

You see, it is easy to say “I believe” or “I have faith”.  To say that I have faith is not the same thing as having faith.  What Jesus wants of you is for you to have faith in Him, the kind of faith that trusts in Him and believes His Word, the kind of faith that is costly because it costs you your hopes, your comforts, your very life.  Jesus says in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it”