What is Faith?: Genesis 33-34, Matthew 17

power

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

There are not many things in the Christian experience more misunderstood than faith. For many people, faith is wishful thinking, empty hope, or reserved for those whose heads remain fixed in the clouds. For others faith is the ultimate sign of weakness and intellectual ‘backward-ness,’ lacking in any reason whatsoever.

Even for Christians, faith is so abstract and vague that it is never given the place that Scripture intends for it.

“Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”
“The righteous shall live by faith.”
“We have been justified by faith.”
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.”
“Those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham.”
“Your faith has made you well.”
‘Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive it, if you have faith.”
“Your faith has saved you.”
Faith is counted as righteousness.”

I could go on.

It’s clear in the Bible that faith is not a mindset. It is not positive thinking. It is not a feeling. It is not an extra sense. It is not a new perspective. It is not blind hope. It is not without reason.

Faith is to the spiritual life, what breathing is to the physical life. Breathing is not physical life, but without breath, there is no life. And faith is the same. Without faith, and faith in Christ, there is not spiritual life.

Bottom line: Faith is essential for life.

But this is still abstract.

What Matthew 17:20 (the opening verse in the post) tells us is not that faith is some kind of superpower that we can display or develop. Jesus isn’t calling us to stand before mountains and just believe we can move them.

Jesus is telling us that faith is the conduit through which God power flows. “having faith” means wielding the power of God with authority. Matthew 17:20 is an answer to a question posed by the disciples. Jesus casts out a demon from a boy and the disciples are amazed. The had tried to do the same and failed. When they ask Jesus how he could have done it when they couldn’t, he says that they lacked faith. It’s not that they didn’t believe hard enough, it’s they had not power.

Faith is power.

Faith is power from God given to those who hear and believe the Gospel.

That’s what Roman’s 10:17 helps us to see: “faith comes through hearing the word of Christ.” When we hear and believe the gospel, the word of Christ, God gives us faith, and faith is power.

I’ve said already that I’m bad at specifics. I’m really good at general, abstract, and ethereal. So maybe this is still too far out there. If you have the gospel, you have faith. Increased faith does not mean a more confident outlook on life; it means more power from God. Being faith-filled is being filled with power from God. Living by faith means living in the power of God. Being justified by faith means being justified by the power of God. Being made well by faith means being made well by the power of God. Being saved by faith means being saved by the power of God.

Faith is power from God given to those who hear and believe the Gospel.

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One Response to What is Faith?: Genesis 33-34, Matthew 17

  1. Pingback: Unbelievable: Exodus 13-14, Romans 4 | Unoriginal Observations

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