What is Faith? (And What It’s Not)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

“Are you a person of faith?” How you respond to that question will depend on what you think faith actually is. Given all the misconceptions and misappropriations of the word faith in our culture, it’s no surprise that you might hesitate to answer.

But the questions of faith—its meaning, its object, its content, its significance—are not ones we can afford to overlook. Faith is an urgent matter that we must come to terms with immediately, because “without faith it is impossible to please” God (Heb. 11:6). So, as we consider what faith is, continue to ask yourself this question: “Am I a person of faith?”

What Faith Is Not

People talk about faith in all sorts of ways. In an effort to encourage a friend who’s going through tough times, you might hear someone say, “Just have faith!” Or maybe you’ve heard people talking about how they have faith that a political candidate or a scientific breakthrough is finally going to bring the change our society needs.

Given that there are so many ways to talk about faith, we must make clear what true, biblical faith is not. In describing what faith isn’t, we move closer to knowing what it is. We also discover that some of the things that we regard as faith are not really faith at all.

Adapted from the sermon “What Is Faith?” by Alistair Begg