v. 1 The writer is presenting “faith” as active and living; faith for the Christian is a way of life to be practiced continuously. This verse suggests there are realities for which we have no material evidence. However, our living and active faith enables us to know that realities (e.g., God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit) exist with genuine certainty.
Moreover, faith is the fuel that gives us hope. Literally, faith is the hypostasis, (that which stands under) of all that the Christian life means, everything the Christian “hopes for” rests on faith.
What does it mean to “have faith?”
I have a “confident assurance” that what I hope for will happen as long as “what I hope for” is in accord with God’s total plan for living in harmony with God. As we will see to have faith means to “believe” and completely “trust” our gracious God through Jesus Christ.
How do we increase our faith? Rom 10:17
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
We increase our faith by learning and integrating the word of Christ—the Bible (Psalm 119:9-10).
Do we tend to trust in things we can see/sense here on earth more than things unseen?
Does faith extend beyond what we learn from our senses and experiences? Can our senses, feelings, and experiences be uncertain and deceptive?
v. 2 The ancients were commended for what?
v. 3 By faith we (a present reality) ________________ ; we have convictions fueled by faith. In this verse, our conviction is that the universe was formed at God’s _____________.
By faith do we believe God is/has (past, present, and future) protected us, been patient with us, loved us despite our sin, calling us to an intimate relationship with himself?
In faith do we strive to have a daily conversational relationship with God where we demonstrate our trust in Him for “every area” of our life?
What does it take to make this happen?
Practice! Practice! Practice!
An understanding that this is a supernatural process!
Let’s explore 4 dimensions of biblical faith:
1.Belief/faith in God; a mental acceptance 2 Cor 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight. John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
2. Faith as Complete surrender, repentance, based on belief in God, we act Matt 9:2
a. Faith in Action: Jam 2: 14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
We are saved by grace through faith(Eph 2:8-9). Works are the natural outcome of saving faith. In fact, God has prepared works for us to do in advance 2:10, and works are subsequent to salvation.
b. Obedience of faith: Rom 1:5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (15:18: 16:26).
c. Faith and love: Gal 5: 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
I Th 1:3We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
II Th 1: 11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
3. Faith as trusting and resting in God, and trustworthiness of God.
Prov 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Rom 3: 3What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? No! God, through Jesus Christ is always faithful according to His sovereign will.
a. Our faith does grow: 2 Thes 1: 3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
4. Faith as a system of doctrine. Contend for “the faith.” Jude 3; Gal 1:23
Are you growing in “faith?” Your belief and trust that God, through Jesus, cares about you and wants to intimately relate with you everyday?
What distractions keep you from experiencing God through conversational prayer in your daily routine?
Is it lack of practice?
Maybe you need to be encouraged to believe that God does want you to seek Him daily and rest in His love and grace through your struggles and successes.
Explore and discuss what is in your own heart with God and others to help you grow in faith.
Have you taken the initial step of faith: belief, repentance, surrender, etc.,?
God does empower us to go through this process of growing in our faith, especially as we cry out in our weaknesses.
Help me Lord, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9.
Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1981). Frank E. Gaebelein (ed.)