Dec 30, 2012

Faith - Personal Study and Observations

God has been nudging me to study the word "Faith" and its meaning. What it means to me and how we use the word, what we apply it to and how it impacts our psyche, our well being, or not.

For me, personally, I have always heard the definition that Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.  So thats where I will start in this personal study and journey of Faith.

The above definition comes from Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." KJV

Breaking this down a bit further, I want to understand the meaning of "substance".  According to www.dictionary.com   substance is that of which a thing consists, physical matter or material; a species of matter of definite chemical composition; the subject matter of thought, discourse, study, etc., the actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality.

So from this I can gather thus far, that faith is the reality of things hoped for... meaning to me the realization of things hoped for...  I will be honest, that stumps me a bit.  If faith is the substance or the reality of things hoped for, this infers that in some way, or at some level, faith has been justified or proven to a point - i.e. the things I have hoped for have come to pass (not all things mind you) they have been realized and therefore my faith has been validated, justified, proven.

Lets look at "evidence"... if faith is the reality of things hoped for then what evidence has been given of the things not seen?  What is evidence?  Again from the web, "that which tends to prove or disprove something, ground for belief; proof.  Something that makes plain or clear, an indication or a sign.  Evidence in relation to Law; data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.

Hold that thought... I am now thinking of belief.  What is the difference between belief and faith? I ask myself.   Well that leads me to realizing I need to know what belief is and what is means.

Belief - something believed; an opinion or conviction.  Confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.

Ah ha!  So I can conclude clearly that belief and faith are not interchangeable, because to have faith is to be certain, to know the reality of a thing or matter and belief is an opinion or conviction of a thing, confidence in something or someone that perhaps can't be proven.

Which takes me to a scripture most of us are familiar with.  Matthew 17:20  "And Jesus said unto them;  Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible to you." KJV

Other translations of this particular scripture have confused many, and the unbelief is replaced with wording that implies we have little or no faith, or not enough faith (see the New Living Translation for example).   These translations seem to cause Jesus to contradict Himself, because He goes on to say that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains.  How can this be?  Surely the translation is not proper and should be an eye opener to any serious student of the Word, to continue to search and seek the level of Truth that God has intended.  (Thats another blog entry)... but moving on.

I have already established the difference between belief and faith and Jesus actually confirms that distinction in Matthew 17:20 KJV. If I were to translate that scripture passage so that my brain can understand it better I would say to myself:  Because my opinion or rejection of the truth (already proven by the testimonies, records, documents, etc) I am not able to move any mountain because I don't have the assuredness of what God can accomplish through me.  Why don't I have that assuredness, or evidence? (as previously pointed out through the definition of Faith)...  I have come to a cross roads in my study...  and I am realizing or remembering a fundamental Truth about Faith.

Faith = (Belief + Action + Confidence)

Which reminds me:  James 2:17 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone"

Belief = An opinion or judgement in which a person is fully persuaded.  So unbelief means a person is not fully persuaded, right?

How do we become fully persuaded in something?  For me personally, I have to have proof.  What is proof?  Its evidence and what is evidence?  Its proof...... hmmm.  Its a circle... it meets itself... Am I lost here God?

God is showing me something here.... Faith by its very nature is an aspect of eternity, of God Himself...

Uh oh... I have to go down another path.  I need to understand Faith a bit more before I can continue.  But suffice it to say, there is MORE to come.  I love this journey and I love how He leads me.  Surely my Faith will be much larger than a mustard seed by the time this study is complete.  I will leave on this note as an indication of why we need to know what Faith is, and how important it is to God.

Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe that he is,  and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

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