Faith – Taking God at His Word

Faith is a word that carries all kinds of baggage. My personal experience seems to indicate that many see faith as a jump in the dark. “Faith is blind” is a common quip. Many people see faith as stepping out on a limb that is too small dreaming that it will hold them up.

Thankfully, common consensus is not sovereign in these matters. The Word of God, which really means God Himself, is the Authority to which we must submit. The Bible is truth, and God sanctifies and grows His people in the truth (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 1:22-2:3).

The word that is often translated “faith” or “believe” in our English Bibles is the Greek Word pistis. A more helpful translation of this word would be “trust.” We could use other synonyms like “depend upon” or “rest in” to help us understand this word.

This leaves us with an especially important question: “Depend upon what or whom?”

The Bible is again quite clear upon Whom we are to depend. We are to depend upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

But how do we depend upon someone we have never met or seen? Again, we have another transparent answer from the Bible:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

The Bible has been written as God’s self-revelation that we may know Him and depend upon Him (Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119; Proverbs 1:1-7; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:30-31; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). The Bible is God’s Word, which has Jesus Christ as its centerpiece. The Bible tells us about God’s person and work. Through His Word, God calls us to trust in Him. It is through trusting in Jesus, depending upon Him and His work alone, that we are saved by God’s grace. This is not our work, but it is trusting in God’s work on our behalf through Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is believing that God has made promises, He cannot lie, and we can depend upon Him to be and do all He says (Titus 1:1-3).

You will notice that the common anchor in all this is God’s Word. God has spoken. God has revealed Himself. God is trustworthy. Therefore, I take God at His Word, trusting in Him.

Miles J. Stanford offered excellent help in understanding what faith is when he said:

First of all, we must remind ourselves that ‘without faith it is impossible to please him’ (Heb. 11:6a). Moreover, and this is all-important, true faith must be based solely on scriptural facts, for ‘faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ (Rom. 10:17). Unless our faith is established on facts, it is no more than conjecture, superstition, speculation, or presumption.”[1] (Italics in original).

Faith is taking God at His Word. It is based in fact. It is based in truth. It is based in God Himself. The one who exercises faith in God is trusting in God to be and do what He says He is and does.

Therefore, faith is not a leap in the dark; it is a step in the light (Psalm 119:105). Faith is not blind. Although we do not see everything, we are trusting in the One who does (Proverbs 15:3). Biblical faith is trusting in the Lord who in all wisdom and insight lavishes His people with grace and works all things for our good (Romans 8:28-29; 11:33-36; 16:25-27; Ephesians 1:7-8). Faith is taking God at His Word. Faith is depending upon Him.

This is true of our justification.[2] In order to be declared right with God a person must depend upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone. As Romans 3:21-26 says,

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)

You may also observe Romans 4:5, Romans 5:1, and Ephesians 2:8-9. We are not declared right with God through anything that we have done but through depending upon Jesus and what He has done.

Not only is this true of our justification, but it is true of our sanctification.[3] As we walk with the Holy Spirit day by day, we are to walk by faith. We are called to keep looking to Jesus who is the Founder and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). Paul said to the Corinthian believers that we walk by faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). And the popular exhortation in Proverbs 3:5-7 still holds true.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

As I live my life in this body, I live it by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and died for me (Galatians 2:20). God’s people are called to continually take the Lord at His Word, trusting Him to be and do all He has said.

[1] Stanford, Miles J. The Complete Green Letters. Zondervan Pub. House, 1983, 3.

[2] Justification is our being declared right with God, not based on our work, but solely based on Jesus Christ.

[3] Sanctification is the ongoing process of God setting us apart for Himself and making us more like Jesus.