Faith: What is It? How is Faith Shown? Why People Lack Faith

By Bob Thiel


Jesus said, that along with mercy and judgment, faith was one of the weightier, more important, matters of the law (Matthew 23:23).

One day:

5…the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

Instead of actually telling them how to increase their faith, Jesus suggested that they had only a little.

But in other parts of the Bible, He and others gave more details about how faith could be increased. This short paper will discuss several aspects of faith. To cover all would be too difficult to cover. For one reason, the NKJV of the Bible has the English word ‘faith’ 243 times in the New Testament (twice in the Old) and the word faithful 53 times in the NT (and 32 in the OT).


What is the Bible Definition of Faith?

The Bible gives a definition of faith:

1 Now faith is the foundation of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible…6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarding of those who diligently seek Him ” (Hebrews 11:1-3,6, modified NKJV).

Author’s Note: The preceding was modified as the KJV and NKJV translate the Greek word hypostasis as substance but it literally means under (hypo) stability (stasis) or foundation. Hence, faith is the underlying stability that God’s people are to have.

Do you really believe that God is rewarding of those, He has called and chosen, those who seek Him? If so, how does that affect your life? The Greek word most commonly translated in the New Testament as faith is πíστις, which is transliterated into English as pistisBibleSoft defines it to mean:

πíστις pistis (pis’- tis) persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

By system of truth, at least one COG minister felt that it included the concept of the work, and since Christians are part of the work of God, it is fair to say that faith is part of the work. And it certainly does take significant faith at times to do the work. Notice something that Christians are supposed to do:

3…contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

Jude is writing to Christians, those who have been called and chosen (1 Corinthians 1:26-28; Matthew 22:14). We are not just to have faith, but promote it (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20). And that is what we in the Continuing Church of God are striving to do. 


Show Faith By Doing, Not Just Claiming to Believe

Paul wrote:

7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

In practical terms, this means that we live God’s way of life even when we have trials and temptations, when things seems almost hopeless, or when others try to deceive us. Paul also wrote:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

Furthermore, James wrote:

17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?  21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:17-26)

Thus faith goes beyond just believing. Living faith includes action that God approves. Not only keeping the Sabbath or Feast of Tabernacles when it seems difficult, but to tithe, avoid pagan holidays like Christmas, and to be honest in a dishonest society. But also to love those who do not love you (Matthew 5:44-48).

Jesus taught:

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

We are not saved by works, but by faith:

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Notice the Bible shows that although we are saved by grace, even that is the gift of God. Also notice that we were created in Christ Jesus for good works.


The Called and Chosen are to be Faithful

While close to all truly in the Church of God believe that they have been called and chosen, all should realize that they are also to be faithful. When Jesus returns, notice who is with Him:

14… He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

We who are called and chosen need to remain faithful. We are not just to obey God, we need to have faith that His ways are best for us.

Notice two other passages of scripture:

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans 8:18-19)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28-29)

When things go wrong, we need faith to endure to the end.


Faith vs. Feeling

Many confuse feelings with faith. While the faithful should have a godly confidence, faith is not really an emotion to be temporarily worked up.

Now, it is true if Satan is bothering one, immediate action should be taken:

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7-8)

5…”God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:5-10)

And taking those biblical actions should increase faith. But that is not some type of emotional session to temporarily make someone feel that they have faith.


The Just Shall Live By Faith

Christians are chosen to become rich in faith:

5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (James 2:5-6)

The Bible, in three places teaches the just shall live by faith.

The first time is Habakkuk 2:4:

4 Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

The contrast between the proud and the just indicates that the faithful are not among the proud, but among the upright. The proud have too much faith in themselves.

Paul wrote:

11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them. (Galatians 3:11-12)

This last verse shows that while the law is not faith, the faithful will keep it.

In Romans 1:17-19, the Apostle Paul wrote:

17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Regarding righteousness of God, Psalm 119:172 states:

172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.

Hebrews says this about some of the just that where faithful:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

So the faithful, while living God’s way of life on Earth, are focused on the hope of their future reward with God. They “seek first the kingdom” (Matthew 6:33). But also on Earth they keep the commandments:

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

But it is not always easy to be part of the faithful. The expression ‘patience of the saints’ indicates great difficulty at that time.

Recall that the Bible ties faith in with hope, “faith is the foundation of things hoped for.” Hope is something that we need to have:

5 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. (Acts 24:15-16 1 KJV)

Not only is hope to be exercised, so essentially is faith. One exercises faith by living by it. And this is not simply a ‘blind faith.’ Notice that the Bible teaches:

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 KJV)

The Bible teaches that one should be able to prove that there is a God:

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (Romans 1:20-21, NKJV)

Of course, we must also look beyond the physical:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

By living according to faith, one also helps prove that the commands and instructions in the word of God are true–Christians do not simply have a blind, illogical, or emotional faith. Faith is real–it is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).

Notice something else that the Apostle Paul wrote:

12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)

The called are to have faith and the examples of those before us should help. When I read some of the lies on the internet about me, or if you learn of some of them, remember what Jesus and Stephen the martyr said:

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)

51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? (Acts 7:51-52)

Jesus is saying that the examples of those who went before us should help us understand what happens to us today. And Stephen made it clear that religious leaders often would not listen to God’s prophets.


Faith Comes By Hearing the Word of God from Those God Has Sent to Preach

Faith is a foundational doctrine:

1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God (Hebrews 6:1)

Where does faith come from?

Paul wrote:

2 Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:2).

Paul also wrote:

6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way…8 “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach)…13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed” (Romans 10:6,8,13-18).

He then said that part of Israel’s problem was disobedience (vs.21). So Paul makes it clear that for people to have faith, they need to listen to the preachers God has sent. These preachers must be true to the word of God (vs.17). Since hearing comes “by the word of God,” this article, most of the sermons, and most of the other information we in the Continuing Church of God put forth extensively quotes the Bible, the word of God.

The importance of preaching and the word of God is confirmed in the following account from the Book of Acts:

10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (Acts 17:10-12).

Searching the scriptures daily is, thus, also helpful in increasing faith. However, some feel that is all they need to do.


God Will Provide What We Need IF We Put Him First and Have Faith

Many who are not called and chosen worry about many matters. Jesus said that His followers do not have to be like that:

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:24-34)

Do you have faith in God’s promises? Jesus said that there were those of little faith; do you want to be considered that way by Jesus?


Comments on Faith

Increasing faith takes a lifetime. Sometimes it seems quite difficult. There are so many aspects of it, that they cannot be covered in a short article. But from the Bible we see that those called of God had faith and lived by faith. That faith is the substance of things hoped for. That faith came by hearing the word of God from the preachers that God sent. That the faithful searched the scriptures to be sure that the preachers were of God. That the faithful were obedient, that they did not forsake the assembling of themselves together, that they exhorted one another, that they prayed, and that they fasted (cf. Matthew 17:20-21).

Faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) and an important aspect of the law (Matthew

23:23). The just are to live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11).

The Bible shows that the faithful have demonstrated their faith by keeping the commandments and otherwise doing what God wanted them to do, even while living in an ungodly world.

By believing God and doing all these things, faith can be increased. Please strive to be one that really has faith when Jesus returns.




Why People Lack Faith

By Herbert W. Armstrong


And now, very briefly, WHY don’t we have FAITH, and how may we get it, and how may it be increased? So many say, “Well, I have no impression — I have no feeling, no conviction — that I shall get the answer.”


They want to wait until they get a certain CONVICTION, a certain FEELING, a sort of assurance they can FEEL–before they really believe they shall have the answer.


But THAT is not faith!


That is FEELING!


Your feeling, your convictions, your impressions, has absolutely not one thing or the other to do with FAITH. FAITH HAS ONLY TO DO WITH GOD’S WORD! The one question is, Has God promised it in the Bible? If He has, then probabilities, possibilities, feelings, convictions, impressions, have nothing whatsoever to do with it. God has a thousand ways we know nothing of, of answering and providing whatever He has promised. We don’t need to see HOW He is going to do it.


And that’s another thing–He almost never will do it the WAY we expect. So don’t try to figure out how it is possible for God to do it. You are trusting in SUPER-NATURAL POWER! Then BELIEVE in that power. God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. What He has promised, He will perform; but He will do it HIS way, and in HIS TIME. Leave all that to HIM and just TRUST HIM. Rely upon His word.


God’s GIFT


And let us remember, FAITH is the GIFT OF GOD.


So many think that everything else that comes from God is His gift, but the FAITH required to receive these things is something we ourselves must somehow work up, or strain and strive for. But we have to just relax and TRUST GOD, even for the FAITH by which we receive everything else! (Eph. 2:8).


In Revelation 14:12 is a description of the true Church of THIS DAY. Those in this Church have the FAITH OF JESUS. Notice, the FAITH OF JESUS! It is not just our faith in HIM, but His faith–the very faith with which He performed His miracles–placed in us and acting in us.


How can you get it? Draw closer to God. Get to know God. Surrender all the way to HIM, and do His will. And then PRAY. YOU get to know Him in PRAYER. We are too close to the material things. Through PRAYER, much more prayer, you can come closer to GOD and the spiritual things. And what a happy, joyous experience it is, once you have really done it!


Faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8), but it is a gift that Christians can develop. Not through emotional appeals, but through living as Jesus lived and trusting God to see us through tests and trials. Feelings can be deceptive; faith is true.