The real meaning of faith


“Faith is not belief without proof. It is trust without reservation.” These wise words came from my good friend Steve Hepden the other day, and boy did they hit me hard.

The problem with so much teaching on faith is that faith becomes a commodity, something we are seeking to possess. And we want a large quantity of it to protect ourselves from all the dangers of the world around us. If only I had faith for this or faith for that, I could get everything I want to make my life peaceful and happy.

What is wrong with this picture?

Well for one thing, Jesus said we only needed a tiny quantity of faith to accomplish great things. And the reason is this: it’s not about how much faith I have, it’s about how much faithfulness God has.

Once we tap into the faithfulness of God, our tiny sliver -- mustard seed, to use Jesus’ word -- surfs on the wave of God’s great faithfulness to accomplish everything his Word promises for us and through us.

The power of faith lies not in our words, our emotions, our thoughts, or even in our “positive confession.” The power of faith lies in the promise of God. That power lies outside ourselves. It is not something to be possessed. It is someone to be trusted. It is part of the living relationship we have with the Lord.

But this points us to a more fundamental truth. Faith is not a commodity I possess. Faith is a relationship I have with God because of what Jesus did for me.

The Greek word for faith at its root means personal trust. And that takes us back to the statement at the beginning. Faith is trust in God. That’s what it is and that’s all it is.

And in its purest form, it is trust without reservation. Faith is not something we get to protect ourselves. It is the willingness to risk everything for Christ’s sake, trusting him for the consequences.

Faith is the entering into a relationship of trust where God calls us again and again to jump off cliffs and risk our security, in the knowledge that he will look after us, no matter what happens.

God has been challenging me lately on whether my faith is actually trust without reservation. Am I following him conditionally or unconditionally?

What I’ve found out is that I don’t have the right to point out to the Lord how many steps of faith I’ve taken in the past when I was much younger, as if that exempted me from taking radical steps of faith in the present.

But one thing I know. The same God who kept me and provided for me and looked after me when I was twenty and when I was thirty and forty and fifty is still looking after me now that I am sixty-four. And he will continue to do so until the day he decides to take me home and into that place where earthly faith is no longer needed.

It may be hard to trust without reservation, but let me tell you it’s a whole lot better than trying to self-protect, manipulate and connive to provide yourself with what you want out of life. Let me give you a hint. It never works.

There’s a better way.

Trust him. He won’t let you down.