When I researched how many times “faith” is used in the Scriptures, I was not surprised to find there were 338 instances of the word “faith,” and/or words containing “faith,” such as “faithful” or “faithfulness.”
I was surprised to find the first mention of the word “faith” does not appear till near the end of the Pentateuch—Deuteronomy 32: 20. And he [God] said: I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
The word—simply the one syllable word—does not appear again till near the end of the Old Testament in Habakkuk 2:4….the just shall live by faith.
A favorite verse of Martin Luther [quoted again in Romans] and countless others.
Faith is multi-layered word, meaningful to everyone, believer or not.
We like to have:
Faith in each other. What an honor to know a family member, friend, young person has “faith in you.”
Faith in the professionals who care for us. This is why we consult each other for references for a doctor or dentist.
Faith in the people we hire to work for us. Who would hire a plumber, electrician, or builder with consulting someone who had found his work satisfactory?
Faith in our neighbors who have our spare house keys or the code to the garage.
Those who have been in church any time at all have heard many a sermon and lesson on faith and heard the time-honored acronym:
Faith. Forsaking All I Trust Him.
And heard the chair illustration: You can know a chair will hold you, but until you sit on it, you have not exercised faith in the chair.
How often have we recited Ephesians 2: 8-9. For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
One of my favorite quotes on faith is:
Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse. –Philip Yancey.
There are any number of biblical examples of faith. Hebrews 11 lists several, beginning with Abel, Enoch, Noah, the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, and others. In fact, verse 36 uses the word “others” to include unnamed martyrs.
One of my favorite examples of faith is Elijah. His story illustrates one of the most valuable aspects of faith: that faith tried and strengthened can be shared with the person in a similar situation.
I Kings 17 opens with the prophet Elijah announcing a drought as the judgement of God due to the sins of Israel and their continued idolatry. God sent him to the brook Cherith and told him he could drink of the brook and the ravens would bring food.
Elijah did as he was told, trusting God to provide his need. And then the brook dried up and God sent him to the widow of Zarephath. [verse 8]
He found her at the gate of the city, gathering sticks. He called to her and asked her, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink,” and, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand” [verses 11–12]. The widow, however, due to the drought, was in need herself.
She told Elijah she was gathering sticks so that she could prepare a final meal for herself and her son, and explained all she had was a little flour and a little oil.
Elijah told her not to fear. [verse 13] “Go and do as thou hast said: but make me a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for you and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.
How could Elijah speak with such authority, assuring the woman her need would be met?
Because he had gone to the brook with nothing and then remained there with a continual supply of food every day.
His faith strengthened, he was able to tell the widow with confidence that God would meet her need.
The widow did as he said, and neither the barrel of meal nor the cruse of oil failed, as promised.
Faith must be tried before the reality of faith is actual. God brings us into circumstances in order to educate our faith, because the nature of faith is to make its object real. Oswald Chambers
“My God, I bless thee that thou hast given me the eye of faith, to see Thee as Father, to experience thy love planted in me. Lord, fan this divine spark into a glowing flame. Awake faith to put forth its strength until all heaven fills my soul and all impurity is cast out.” The Valley of Vision
The Fruit of the Spirit is Faith.