Lost Crusader #173 Elements of Faith
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The scripture above is a wonderful description of faith, but it does not define faith or tell us how faith works in giving substance to the things we hope for or provide evidence of the unseen. There is a good reason for this. The working of faith is, of necessity, more involved than merely describing it. An airplane is easy to identify. It is much more difficult to describe the aerodynamics that keep it in the air.
There are three components or dimensions to Christian faith. I will endeavor to describe them. However, like most things related to Christianity, telling you about them is not as difficult as putting them into practice.
The first component of faith is hearing. As Paul told the Romans, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Before a person can come to a conclusion, they must begin with a hypothesis.
Jesus often called for those who had an ear, to hear Him. He was not speaking about the wing-like things on the side of our heads. He was speaking of a willingness to listen. Discarding (or accepting) an idea based solely on its source is foolishness. As the old saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. The Bible urges us to be swift to hear, but slow to speak.
Now hearing is just that—hearing. It does not mean to unquestioningly accept as true the words you have heard. Not the words from friends, not the words from pulpits, not even the words in your Bible. The words we hear are meant to be examined, questioned, and tested in order to evaluate their veracity. The scripture invites hearers to “taste and see”, and to “try Me now in this”. That is, to experiment. God is not afraid to be put to the test provided the conclusion has not already been decided in the experimenter’s mind.
Faith is an action, not an idea. That is why James said that faith without works—the resultant actions—is dead by itself. He challenged those who said they had faith to demonstrate it in their lives without actions ( of course, they couldn’t.). He said he would show the world his own faith by what he was motivated by faith to do.
Hypothesis. Test. Are these steps sounding familiar?
The next step is to evaluate the results. Did acting on the words you heard produce positive results? The result of faith at work is to produce the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance in the life of the person conducting the test.
One important note must be considered. Fruit does not grow overnight except in the most miraculous cases. Babies don’t learn to walk without falling down. Nurtured, fruit does grow, and babies do learn to walk. In the same way, faith, soundly practiced, will produce spiritual fruit and a spiritual walk.