Derek Prince - What Is Biblical Faith
Let’s begin to consider a little bit about the nature of faith and then we’ll go on in our next session. In Romans 10:17 which I quoted to you before it says, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. That’s a very important principle. Faith, as used in the Bible means always faith in the Word of God. It can come only from one source, God’s Word. It has only one focus, God’s Word. You see, we can say in contemporary English, I have great faith in my doctor. Or, I have faith in a political party or I have faith in a certain kind of medicine or diet. That’s legitimate, there’s nothing wrong with using those words but it’s not the scriptural use of faith. Faith in the Bible is always based on the Word of God. Anything that is not based on the Word of God is not biblical faith.
And then in Hebrews 11 we have a definition of faith. I think it’s the only word that the Bible actually defines. I can’t think of another word that is actually defined in the Bible. In Hebrews 11:1 it says: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, a sure persuasion concerning things not seen. So, there’s a relationship between faith and hope. I’ve discovered a lot of people have hope when they think they have faith. Faith is here and now hope is for the future. Faith is a substance, something so real that it’s called a substance. It’s in our hearts. On the basis of faith we can have a legitimate hope for the future. But, any hope that is not based on legitimate faith is just wishful thinking. But bear in mind, faith is a substance in our hearts. It’s right there right now.
Romans 10:10 says: If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart you will be saved. Notice, biblical faith is not in the mind, it’s in the heart. And then Paul goes on to say: For with the heart man believes to salvation. In the New Testament believing is a word of motion. It’s not a static thing. It’s not taking an intellectual position. It’s something in your heart that leads you to something new. Faith is a verb of motion. By faith we believe unto salvation. You can have intellectual faith and never be changed. You can embrace all the doctrines of the Bible intellectually and remain completely the same. But when you have faith in your heart, it leads to salvation. Faith is in the present, hope is in the future. Faith is in the heart hope is in the mind.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 Paul speaks about both. It’s a very interesting picture that he uses. 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul says: But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet the hope of salvation. You’ll notice there are two items of armor. Faith is the breastplate. What does the breastplate protect? The heart, that’s right. But hope is as... Hope is a helmet. What does the helmet protect? The head, that’s right. Faith is in the heart, hope is in the mind. Now, hope is very important because every true Christian should be an optimist. If you’re a pessimist, actually that’s a denial of your faith.
I define hope as this: a confident expectation of good based on the Word of God. And every one of us who is a true believer has a confident expectation of good. Because, no matter what happens in this life we’re going to be with Jesus forever. If that’s your hope, you can get depressed, you can get downcast, but you never give up. because you have a hope, a hope that’s based on faith. Then we go back to Hebrews 11 for some more statements about faith. This wonderful eleventh chapter of Hebrews, the great faith chapter. In Hebrews 11, in verse 3, it says: By faith we understand that the ages were framed by the Word of God so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
It’s very important to understand, faith relates you to the invisible. Faith is not based on what we see. Faith takes us beyond the realm of the senses into the realm of the invisible. And in 2 Corinthians 5:7 Paul says: We walk by faith not by sight. Notice, they are alternatives. When you see you don’t need to believe. You only need to believe when you don’t see. So Paul says, we walk by faith. We’re not walking by what we see, we’re walking by what we believe. And outside the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus said to Martha: Did I not tell you that if you would believe, to see the glory of God, you would see it. So which comes first? Believing? Or seeing? Believing, that’s right.
So many people say, Well, when I see, I’ll believe. No, that’s not true because when you see you don’t need to believe. You need to believe when you can’t see. We walk by faith, not by sight. I’ve met so many people who say, Oh, if I only could see, I’d believe. But that’s not true. You wouldn’t need to believe. You need to believe when you can’t see. We walk by faith, not by sight. And then I want to say in the original languages of both Greek and Hebrew, faith is not primarily a doctrinal issue, it’s a matter of character. We’ve got it wrong in our evangelical thinking. We tend to talk about faith as an intellectual embracing of certain doctrines.
Primarily, faith is a matter of character. This is true of the Hebrew, emanau, the Greek, pistos. Both of them primarily mean: faithfulness, loyalty, commitment. Jesus said to His disciples, You are those who have continued with me in my trials. That’s faith. It’s continuing with Jesus. It’s a personal commitment to a person. Faith relates us to Jesus as our high priest when we confess it. Hebrews 3, verse 1 says: Consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Christ Jesus. Remember that. It’s very, very important. Jesus is the high priest of your confession. If you say it He’s your high priest. If you keep silent, He cannot be your high priest. That’s why it’s so important to confess your faith.
And then in Hebrews 4:14, it says: Seeing then we have a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. We confess, we’re tested, but we hold fast. And as long as we hold fast Jesus is our high priest. But in Hebrews 10 it takes us a stage further. Hebrews 10:21 says: Having a high priest over the house of God... Verse 23: let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. Notice we’ve progressed from faith to hope. We have a hope that’s based on our faith. We confess our faith and now we confess our hope. And it says without wavering.
Why do you think it says that? Why would it say without wavering? Why would it say hold fast the profession of our faith? The reason is because there’ll be a lot of forces that will oppose us. A lot of pressures that will come against us. A lot of things that will seek to discourage us and undermine our faith. This is a battle of determination. It’s a battle of endurance. Finally I have to tell you, reluctantly, faith will be tested. Untested faith is of no value in the sight of God. Jesus said to the church of Ephesus, I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire. That’s real faith. That stood the test. In ancient times gold that had not been tested by fire was not considered worth anything. Faith that has not been tested is not valued at all by God.
Let me quote to you in closing James 1:2-4: Count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But let endurance have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Do you want to be perfect and complete? You have to let endurance have its perfect work. That’s the trial that you go through. And Peter says elsewhere that by various trials we have been grieved that the genuineness of our faith being much more precious than gold that perishes, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. And let me say one final word to you, which you probably will wish I hadn’t said, there’s only one way to learn endurance. Do you know what that is? Enduring. That’s right. God bless you!