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The Bible and Christians talk about faith a lot. Matthew 12:32 talks about "faith as a mustard seed" for instance.

I've heard many Christians say things like "I don't have enough faith," or "I want more faith," or "If I only had more faith." These phrases make faith sound like a tangible substance.

What is faith in the Christian context?

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You know, I never noticed the exact meaning. +1 –  Phonics The Hedgehog Aug 31 '11 at 3:46

4 Answers 4

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. NKJV

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. NIV

Faith is tangible in a certain sense of the word in that it is tangible to me and God.

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. NIV

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So Faith is pretty important then... –  leeand00 Aug 31 '11 at 4:00
Exactly what I was going to quote. –  Lawrence Dol Aug 31 '11 at 7:07
Tangible? As in you can physically touch it? –  Kramii Sep 19 '11 at 16:51
@kramii Not physically tangible but spiritually but tangible as in it is able to be treated as fact/evidence. –  James Khoury Sep 19 '11 at 23:18

(I know my answer is similar to James Khoury's, but a longer answer is needed. Even this is not near enough, but here goes anyway...)

It is accurate, but maybe a little simplistic to say that faith is "the belief that God means what He says."

Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.

At the risk of sounding too mystical or weird, faith is the assurance of things we have no other assurance of. It is the proof of things for which we have no other proof.

The bulk of Hebrews 11 gives example after example of what people have done "by faith" eventually describing the people as "men of whom the world was not worthy" (v. 38).

The implication is that faith leads people to do things that make no logical sense, yet are Right. I emphasized "Right" because I mean much more than the best or correct choice among several alternatives. I'm using "Right" to mean perfect to the degree that any deviation from that would be a failure to follow God's Will.

James is even clearer in his statement that faith always leads to action (works).

James 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

As you continue reading through to the end of James 2, you get to the conclusion that "faith without works is dead" (v. 26).

It is also important to note that while faith will lead us to do the things that God approves of, it is not a guarantee of anything in this life.

Hebrews 11:39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised

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+1 @jimreed Nice indepth answer i like the whole "Right according to God s will ... " statements too. –  James Khoury Sep 19 '11 at 23:21

My pastor has been discussing this lately and he paraphrases the definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1 as this:

Faith is believing that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised to do.

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This comes from Spurgeon's book "All of Grace". –  Narnian Oct 8 '13 at 21:24

Faith is a species of belief. I'll list what I think the various species are (I'd argue this list is not subjective):

  • Belief based on day-to-day experience (normal belief)
  • Belief based on rigorous evidence (scientific belief)
  • Belief based on internal mental content (intuitive belief)
  • Belief based on religious texts/traditions/community/mystical experience (faith)

Most Christians make use of all of these to some degree, but a pillar of Christianity (and other religions) is that the last one is key to appropriate participation in the religion. Of course, how could it be otherwise? (It wouldn't be religion for a person if it weren't believed).

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