Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Over and over again, the Word of God stresses the importance of faith. To the prophet Habakkuk, God said, “The righteous will live by his faith” (2:4). To the woman whose sinfulness caused her to wash His feet with her tears, Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you” (Luke 7:50). In Hebrews 11:6, the writer said, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” The Bible repeatedly talks about the importance of faith. Thus, it should be no surprise that when we get to the foundational book of the New Testament, the book of Romans, it is grounded in faith.
The theme of Romans is this: the righteousness of God is available to everyone who comes to Christ through faith. The key passage is Romans 1:16-17: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.'” How do we come to a right relationship with God and enter Heaven? It is by faith in the grace of God, believing what God has done for us through Christ.
If indeed it is by faith that we receive God’s approval and escape the flames of Hell, then it seems to me that it would be important to understand what faith is. I think the best way to understand saving faith is to identify what genuine faith is not.
First, faith is not a feeling. Sometimes when I am talking to a non-Christian, I will ask, “If you were to die tonight, do you know for certain you will be welcomed into Heaven?” Many people will say, “No. Nobody can know that for sure.” But occasionally somebody will say, “Yes, I know I am going to Heaven.” I will ask, “How do you know?” The person will say, “I just have a feeling that everything is right between God and me.” That is not faith; that is fantasy.
Second, faith is not hope. A lot of people think that faith is a synonym for hope. They will say something like, “I sure hope I am going to Heaven.” That is not faith. That is wishful thinking.
Third, faith is not optimism. A lot of people think faith is a synonym for positive thinking. They say, “If I just think positively for long enough, then whatever I want to happen will happen.” But faith is not just positive thinking and believing. Faith always demands an object.
If faith is not feeling, if it is not hope, and if it is not optimism, then what is saving faith? The Bible defines faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Here is a good definition of faith: Faith is believing that God will do what He has promised to do even when all evidence is to the contrary.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “(The) Just Live by Faith” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.