Faith: What is it, and how important is it? Is all faith beneficial, or must faith be based on something to give it value or power? The Bible beautifully defines faith for us: (Hebrews 11:1-3) ..."Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld. 2 For by means of this the men of old times had witness borne to them. 3 By faith we perceive that the systems of things were put in order by God's word, so that what is beheld has come to be out of things that do not appear." Please note: Verse 1 says faith includes the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld. True faith must be based in reality, just as we can have faith in the wind which we can not see, because we can feel it on our face and see the leaves move under it's power. (Rom_1:20-23 ; Heb_3:4 ; Ps_14:1 ; Ps_53:1) The Bible tells us something else interesting about faith: (Hebrews 11:6) "Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please [him] well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him."

At the root or basis of faith as defined in the Bible then, must be the belief that God exists and that He is good (that he becomes the rewarder of those seeking him). (Hebrews 11:6) Creation itself testifies to God's existence and encourages faith. (Romans 1:20) It is Bible knowledge, however, that builds faith as nothing else can. (Ephesians 4:13) Strong faith becomes a powerful tool that God can use to accomplish productive works in the lives of the faithful. (Mark 4:40 ; Matthew 17:20 ; Matthew 9:22) If you have never been a person "outstanding" in the eyes of the world, it does not matter. Fact is, God seems mostly inclined to use people more ordinary in the eyes of other men to accomplish his works. (Romans 5:6-8) It is through our faith He accomplishes good things in us, as was the example with the faith of David of old.

Can we, however, depend on any faith which we might build to be our protection? There are people, for example, who believe they have lucky underwear, or sox, or a lucky hat. Will faith in those things help anyone? Of course not. Faith that has value must be based in knowledge of our Grand Creator, through his word the Bible. (Romans 10:16-18) Such faith then becomes exactly as correspondingly real for us as that scriptural definition of faith becomes truth to us! If we are standing on the edge of a cliff, none of us will step out onto the air. Why not? Because we each and every one have absolute faith in gravity. We can't see it or touch it, but we know it's there by the evidence of it's existence. We should become just as sure of God's existence! It is only Bible knowledge which can help us have such faith. Any real hope we have, then, is tied closely to our faith. To develop and have a hope that is real, our faith must be "the assured expectation of things hoped for." Do you truly believe God's kingdom by Christ is real? (Matthew 6:9-10) Do you live in expectation that Christ's kingdom will accomplish God's purpose on the earth? (2 Peter 3:13 ; Isaiah 11:6-10) Do you, as the foundation of your faith, believe God exists and that he is good? Do you truly believe he becomes the rewarder of those who seek him out? (Hebrews 11:6) Do you, day in and day out, believe in the promises of God? If you do, your faith and your hope are most certainly based on your knowledge of the Bible: [Romans 10:11-15 Literal Version] (11) For the Scripture says, "Everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame." [Isa. 28:16] (12) For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord of all is rich toward all the ones calling on Him. (13) For everyone, "whoever may call on the name of [Jehovah] will be saved." [Joel 2:32] (14) How then may they call on One into whom they have not believed? And how may they believe One of whom they have not heard? And how may they hear without preaching? (15) And how may they preach if they are not sent? Even as it has been written, "How beautiful" "the feet of those preaching the gospel of peace, of those preaching the gospel of good things." [Isa. 52:7] If you find you do not truly believe in Christ and his kingdom, you should study the Bible account of Christ's teachings (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) to help you build faith. The truth is, we must all be building such faith! (1 Corinthians 10:12) If you are one who has had little exposure to the Bible, you should evaluate it so as to see if there is reason to put faith in what it teaches. Remember, Jesus said the good news of the kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field, such that a man would sell all he owns to have that field. (Matthew 13:44) That is the treasure which is contained in the Bible for all: Faith in the teachings of Christ Jesus.

It is important to understand and remember: Faith is not the same as knowledge. Ancient people who lived under the Mosaic Law lived by obedience to that law, awaiting a future time of faith in Christ. (They didn't fully understand at the time, of course, but that was their lot in life none the less.) We today have arrived at the time which they awaited: Today we live by faith in Christ. (Galatians 3:23-25) . . . However, before the faith arrived, we were being guarded under law, being delivered up together into custody, looking to the faith that was destined to be revealed. 24 Consequently the Law has become our tutor leading to Christ, that we might be declared righteous due to faith. 25 But now that the faith has arrived, we are no longer under a tutor. .
(Galatians 5:5-6) . . .For our part we by spirit are eagerly waiting for the hoped-for righteousness as a result of faith. 6 For as regards Christ Jesus neither circumcision is of any value nor is uncircumcision, but faith operating through love [is].
When this present period of faith ends, being brought to an end with the arrival of the reality of God's promises, we will no longer need hope or faith. What we today hope for will then be reality, and faith and hope in the kingdom will no longer be necessary. (Romans 8:24-25) "For we were saved in [this] hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we keep on waiting for it with endurance." Come quickly lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Today, then, since the benefits of the kingdom have not yet been brought to completion, we continue to live in hope based on faith. Our day is thus a wonderful opportunity for all to develop and express love through faith. That is the one work we can always know is in harmony with God's will and his timetable. As we build faith, awareness and understanding that what we individually have is faith, and not knowledge, can be a protection: It should protect us against becoming judgmental of others. We must understand our personal faith is being worked out, or developed, through our power of reason: We should also realize our faith is based upon our own understanding of the Bible. (Romans 12:1) (The only true faith, or the only faith that can really benefit us, must be based on the truth of the Bible.) Having a reasonable understanding of faith along with realizing what we have is faith and not knowledge, and that our faith is worked out through our imperfect power of reason, should help us avoid being judgmental. We are all growing! To his own master each one stands of falls. (Romans 14:4) The Bible provides knowledge to build our own faith, but not to judge the faith of others. (James 4:11-12 ; Romans 14:10-13) We must realize: We are afforded opportunity to learn what the Bible teaches, and then we must do our best to be obedient to Christ's teachings. We should use every opportunity to share Bible knowledge with others. Telling others about the truth we learn from the Bible is a demonstration of love, and provides witness that our faith is real. (1_Cor_12:27-13:13) If we believe the Bible's teachings are "truth," and if we have love for God and neighbor, how could we not tell them about what we learn? We are compelled to help everyone know and understand: (Luke 10:27) "Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not [yet] beheld." (Hebrews 11:1-3)

Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom.
For your hope (based in faith) to be realized, it will help to be familiar with five common terms: 1. Knowledge, 2. Understanding, 3. Wisdom, 4. Ignorance, and 5. Stupidity. We all start being born in ignorance. Ignorance is really nothing. Ignorance simple means we have not acquired knowledge and understanding. First then, comes Knowledge. Our first knowledge is usually in the form of knowledge of truth we gain from what we see in creation. (Romans 1:20) We then find knowledge of the hope of eternal life fully explained in the Bible. (Psalms 33:4-6) After you have knowledge (possibly with further study and talking about what you have learned with others), you can gain some understanding of the knowledge you have acquired. With both knowledge and understanding, then, you have opportunity to become wise. You become wise by using your understanding to benefit yourself or others: Wisdom is the manifestation of knowledge and understanding in action. There is an old illustration that seems apt: A man is standing on a railroad track. In the distance he sees (and thereby gains knowledge) a train is coming on the track. He gains understanding when he realizes the train is moving toward him on the track and will cause him harm if he remains where he is. With that realization, the man has reached a point where he has both knowledge and understanding. The man displays wisdom when he steps off the track. If this man remains on the track, while having both knowledge and understanding, he is no longer ignorant of the danger he is in. By remaining on the track, he changes from ignorant to stupid as he forfeits his life in demonstrating he doesn't care about anything. The opposite of wisdom, then, is stupidity! Before knowledge or understanding, a person is ignorant. After both knowledge and understanding are gained, ignorance disappears. What is left is either wisdom or stupidity. A chance to step off the tracks is the gift Jehovah God is giving us all, as we express wisdom through our exercising faith in his son Christ Jesus. (John 17:3 ; Proverbs 30:4 ; John 7:16-17) Wisdom manifests itself in (or as) the wise use or application of knowledge. In the case of each and every one of us, if we have widsom, it presents as love for others. (Luke_10:25-28 ; 1_John_4:20) People who choose to be stupid are without love; They are wicked people. (Proverbs 13:19-20)

Christ Jesus and his teachings provide the knowledge we require to gain life. (John 17:3) If you meditate on what you learn from the Bible, you will gain an understanding of what those teachings can mean for you. As you express faith in Christ through obedience, (1 John 5:3) by lovingly sharing what you learn about him with others, (Acts 4:19-20 ; Acts 2:17) you demonstrate wisdom which means life. Some will assert that is wrong, as that would mean we are working out our salvation. It is not wrong! Life is a gift from our Father which we accept through faith. Demonstrating love for others is the simple demonstration that true faith resides in us. (James 2:18-23 ; James 2:18-26) Love is the mark in our forehead that the angels will see, and that will protect us from destruction. (Eze_9:2-6) Building faith through obedience (1 John 5:3-4) is how we first decide for ourselves, and how we then let Jehovah know, who we really are in the secret person of our heart. That demonstration of our faith is how we become God's friends; as was Abraham of old. (James 2:18-23) Though the truth about Christ Jesus seems a fairy tale or is foolishness to some people, (1 Corinthians 1:18) the simple fact about it is: We are all becoming wise people of faith, or we are becoming stupid persons. There is no middle ground. (Ecclesiastes 8:8) The darkness of ignorance is being melted away into the light of Bible truth. (Matthew 4:15-17) May we all make the wise choice! (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) May we all step off the train tracks, by simply learning and being obedient to the teachings of Christ. (Read: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!)

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