Believe it or not, every individual
of every age and calibres exercise faith either knowingly or unknowingly. A child jumps down from his bed with the faith that his mother will catch hold of him when he jump. A person in an
unknown place gets into a taxi and asks the driver to take him to a particular destination by faith that the driver will take him exactly to the place he mentioned. Faith, of course may vary from person to person. A grade III student may completely believe on what the teachers teach, a high school
student may believe but in reservation to what the teachers teach, but it can also be that a college student may be very critical to the views of the teachers though he has the faith in his teacher.
Even in the religious realms, we
find faith playing a very important role. Every religion in the world, knowingly or unknowingly exercises certain faith. It is interesting to know that even an
atheist exercise his faith of not
believing in God. In a Christian circle, faith plays a very major role as the whole building of Christianity is based upon the foundation of faith. The word
‘faith,’ though is very simple to
understand, is very deep in its essence. Every religion and individual have a different approach to their faith. In
Christianity, the faith is in Jesus Christ who justifies a person unto salvation with the hope of
resurrection in Him.
Faith is to be Exercised
Faith is something that we believe; it is even when we see that there is nothing, we can see. The Bible declares in Romans1:17 and Habakkuk 2:4 that “the just shall live by faith.” The scripture is very clear that a person becomes a Christian only through faith, and thus has to exercise faith
in his day to day life. Faith is not a one time commitment but a continuing process. In his epistle, James argues about faith by challenging in Chapter 2 verses 17 and 18 that “Even so faith, if it had no works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works: show
me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” The emphasis here is “faith” followed by works.
It does not mean that salvation can be obtained by work, but it is just a simple statement to say that a true faith is a faith that is exercised. J. Vernon McGee gives a very wonderful and relevant illustration on this issue:
A minister once talked to a man
who professed conversion, and he
asked, ‘Have you united with the
church?’ ‘No, I haven’t,’ the man
replied. ‘The dying thief never
united with the church, and he
went to heaven.’ The minister
asked, ‘Have you ever sat at the
Lord’s table?’ ‘No, the dying thief
never did, and he was accepted’
was the answer. The minister
asked, ‘Have you been baptized?’
‘No,’ he said, ‘the dying thief was
never baptized, and he went to
heaven.’ ‘Have you given to
missions?’ ‘No, the dying thief did
not give to missions, and he was
not judged for it’ was the reply.
Then this disgusted minister said
to the man: ‘Well, my friend, the
difference between you two
seems to be that he was a dying
thief and you are a living thief.’
The above illustration points to
the fact that faith without work is
equivalent to no faith at all. The fruit of faith is exercising of faith through action and the exercising of faith is the declaration of faith that is within. The IVPstates this way:
Within Christian thinking, faith is
not a discrete entity that exists by
itself. It is essentially a response to something known to be true,
response to God’s revelation and
to God. Christian don’t possess
faith, they exercise it. Faith is seen
in action; hence it is more than
assent to certain truths. It is
commitment of trust and
obedience that involves the whole
It is really a true saying that action
speaks louder than voice. The above quotation also supports to this view. Christian faith is not much about proclaiming, but it is more about practicing. Practicing by exercising it so that the faith can be seen in action. One of the classic examples of great men of God with great faith and who
exercised his faith with great
dedication can be rightly named as
Abraham. The Bible states in Hebrew 11:8 that “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an
inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” When God told Abraham to go to a place which he has no knowledge of, he took the step of faith by obeying God. His faith on this unknown God is really a wonder, but it is this faith of him in this
unknown God that changed the whole history of mankind. Abraham might have been mocked or restrained by his relatives or friends on his decision to obey this unknown God, but he stood firm in his decision and thus exercising his faith.
Faith is the Future Hope with Uncertain Present
Now, a true Christian being
certain of his salvation because of his faith in Jesus Christ is very much surprising to know that each step he takes is a step of uncertainty. When a person is in uncertainty, he/she tends to waver in his/her faith. This is true for
many people. Christians share the
gospel to the unbelievers stating that there is certainty of salvation in Christ and that their faith does not give the assurance of salvation. They try to convince them by arguing that their faith wavers because of their uncertainty and thus they need to be certain of what they believe. Now, a question arises that whether the Christians are certain of their faith or not. The answer, no doubt, is a “yes.” And the answer yes leads to another question of why the uncertainty even after being certain. The non-believers
might argue that they are just
professing themselves to be certain but actually are not as they themselves are not sure of what the next step is. They are of course right in what they say but
they do not understand that by taking the step of uncertainty they are actually proclaiming the certainty of their faith.
The uncertainty of the present is
overcome by the certainty of the future because of the many witnesses that proclaimed the hope of the future with certainty. Jesus Christ is the classic example as he not only proclaimed the hope but also gave the assurance by overcoming death. The hope of life after death was made known crystal clear in His resurrection. It is because of this faith of hope in the future that many were persecuted or martyred. Many of the Christians throughout history never had a smooth-going life. Their life were based on the foundation of the faith in Jesus Christ for which
they were severely persecuted. Were they certain of their faith of hope? Were they certain that their sufferings were for a genuine reason? These questions might have haunted the people who
persecuted them as they might have been amazed at the courage shown by these people of faith. These people’s hope for the future was so genuine that they conveyed powerful message of
their faith through their testimonies. Sometimes there can be a false notion about the future which can be so subtle but not impossible to discern. David
Epstein in his book gives a very clear contrast between the Islamic and the Christian hope for future stating that:
Islamic terrorists preach to their
young recruits that if they die
while fighting the enemies of
Islam in Jihad, particularly while
killing Jews and Americans, they
will immediately enter paradise
and enjoy 72 virgin brides and
many other rewards for their
martyrdom. In powerful contrast,
Jesus says you don’t get to
paradise by killing God’s
enemies; you get to paradise by
loving and trusting God’s son,
who then empowers you to love
your neighbour as yourself.
Epstein’s contrasting statement
above gives the idea that a tree will be known by its fruit. The Islamic hope for future is based on fantasies and lust of flesh; on the contrast to which the Christian faith was rooted on the hope
that they will one day be with the holy God for eternity. Their short stay in this earth shows continues process of growth which is seen through the fruit of the Spirit that they bear.
Faith is a Continuous Process of Growth
Many preachers and evangelist
preach that once a person accepts Jesus Christ as his personal saviour by faith; he is assured of his salvation and thus doesn’t care much about the aftermath of the salvation. It is a sad thing as it is
just like a baby born with a growth
disorder. A genuinely justified person will automatically show signs of growth. John MacArthur expresses that “… the first great Christian attitude, faith, begins at salvation and will characterize your entire Christian life.” According to him, Christian faith
does not just stop after salvation but there is a process of growth. Great faith does not come automatically on the very first day, but it takes time and load of experiences to understand and grow. The disciples of Jesus Christ had faith in Him from the time Jesus was with them. It is interesting to see that their
faiths were wavering even when God himself was with them. It was not until the day of Pentecost and also after tons of experiences that their faith actually became very strong. The great faith that they exercise did not happen on a single day. There was a gradual growth that took many years.
There is a very common saying that “We learn from our mistakes.” In the same way it can also be said that faith grows from experiences. Through experiences a person is convinced of his faith; which eventually makes his faith to grow a level higher. David in the Bible had this same experience of growing in faith through experiences. He was a simple shepherd boy who was later chosen by the God of Israel to be
the king. He was the one from whose lineage was the promised Messiah to come. When the Israelites were in a battle with the Palestinians, there was a champion in the Palestinian camp
because of whom the battle was not progressing as the Israelites were sore afraid of him. He was about nine feet tall and armed with one of the finest armour and weapons. It was at this climax that David was sent by his father to deliver some food to his brothers
who were in the battlefield. When
David heard about the giant Goliath, he was filled with rage as he was denouncing the name of the God of Israel and there was no one from the Israelite camp, who was brave enough to fight with the giant. He accepted the challenge by himself. And when he was
questioned by king Saul as he was still very young, he testified the faithfulness of God which he experienced in his life. David’s faith had a gradual growth as he
experienced God’s involvement in his life. It was the past experiences of him that made him to take up such a dangerous decision of challenging the Palestinian giant. This simple shepherd boy eventually killed the giant with a single stone. David’s faith was boosting up at each hurdle that he overcome. His faith was growing daily as is expected
from a true man of faith.
There has never been any other
faith that has been attacked from every corner as the Christian faith; but it is ⁰100¹0¹¹ also the only faith that has a complete assurance. The Christians throughout the ages lived with fear and chaos
because of the various modes of
persecution that they had to undergo. Many were martyred for the sake of their faith. Though they lived a life of uncertainty without the idea of what will happen the next minute or hour, they rejoiced at the certainty of a glorious future ahead. The perilous and totally chaotic circumstances of the
present create rooms for faith to be exercised. The Christian faith leads to an understanding that the faith they exercise is something that seems to be very fragile from the outside but is actually very much inseparable once it is experienced. Faith therefore, is a
very uncertain step of the “certain”
(Christian) who is assured of salvation as it is something that is only “hoped for” but is “not seen.”
All Scripture verses are to be observed in KJV
MacArthur John, The Pillars of Christian Character, 2003.
MacGee J. Vernon, Thru the
Inter – varsity press, downers
grove, illiniois 60515.
Epstein David, A Time for Hope,
Advancing Native Missions,
- MacArthur John, The
Pillars of Christian Character,
1 John MacArthur, The Pillars of Christian Character, 2003, 11.
2 This and all the Scriptures quoted further is to be referred from KJV.
3 J. Vernon MacGee, Thru the Bible, 1983, 651
4 Inter – varsity press, downers grove, illiniois 60515. 97.
5 David Epstein, A Time for Hope, Advancing Native Missions, 2011,
6 Bible, Matthew 7:16-20
7 Bible, Galatian 5:22,23
8 John MacArthur, The Pillars of Christian Character, 2003, 19.
9 Bible, Hebrew 11:1