Since faith is essential to the Christian life, many Christians wonder if their faith is strong enough or is quantifiable enough to impress God into answering their prayers and seeing God work wonders in their life. Even asking the question, “How do I know if I have faith?”, shows the lack of faith and expresses the doubt in your heart. But your faith isn’t based on your present doubt, but on what you do to overcome your doubt.
The most famous Bible verse regarding the definition of faith is the one found in Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 11:1 — Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hope Is the Key
The word “hope” is the key to knowing if you have faith or not. The Bible tells us that hope is the substance, the essence, the main ingredient of faith.
We use the word “hope” in a much weaker sense than the Bible does. For the average person, “hope” is wishful thinking of something that we do not think to be likely — much like when you are pulled over by a police officer for speeding and you mutter to your spouse, “I hope he doesn’t give me a ticket.” Or when eyeing dark thunderheads rapidly filling the sky and you say, “I hope it doesn’t rain.”
Biblically, the word “hope” is significantly stronger, means strong confidence. Look at this verse:
Hebrews 6:18 — That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
So a better definition of biblical faith would be: The looking forward to something that you believe will happen and are relying upon its occurrence.
This is important to understand. Hope almost universally has weight in a future event or occurrence. It lies in what you believe will happen and what you are relying upon to happen. Even a casual study of Hebrews 11 will reveal the numerous times that someone acted upon a promise that God gave of something that had not yet happened. Abraham traveled into a distant land with the hope of finding a city built by God. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son hoping and believing that God would raise his son up from the dead. Noah built an ark based on his belief of the coming rain and flood.
Romans 8:24-25 — For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
No Hope, Then No Faith
Let me make a statement here: If there is no hope, then there is no faith.
One of the more powerful examples or illustrations of faith is found in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” There is much hope in that verse, much that is looked forward to, and much that is counted upon to occur in the future.
Too many people panic when things go wrong. They pray, they go to church perhaps, they may even read their Bible. But they are trying to get God to take away the problem. They grasp their thin straw of faith — or what they think faith is — and ask God to take away the burden, the situation, the pain, or the care. This is not faith.
Faith says, “God, I think You have a plan in all this. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m going to look for it. I believe that You know what is happening to me. I know that You can turn it to good. So, Father, I will look for that good.”
That is faith. Faith is where you but all your eggs in the basket of what God will do. It is the reliance upon a promise of God, the strong hope of God’s intervention, deliverance, and work. If you are not looking forward to, or hoping in God’s promises, then you don’t have faith.
Where there is no hope, there is no faith!
When problems, trials, or burdens come your way, find a promise of God to cling to. Patiently wait for it and actually count on it. Plan for it. Then you’ll see God coming through in miraculous ways.
Everyone who has ever witnessed the mighty power of God directly involved in their individual lives has done so through faith. That faith, however, was based on a hope, a promise of things to come.
Hebrews 11:20 — By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
The question to ask yourself, to determine if you have faith, is what are you hoping for? What promise of God are you clinging to, are you counting on? What things to come are you relying upon?
Without hope, there is no faith.
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