What is Faith?


As we start a new series on “Building Your Faith”, it would be beneficial to understand what faith is. Much like a few doctrinal concepts like love, faith is best understood by considering what it does rather than what it is. Classically, faith has often been defined by Hebrews 11:1 as: “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. As we proceed in this lesson, may the Lord grant us an understanding of faith by the revelation of His essence. In our attempt to describe what faith does, we will consider the story in Daniel 3.

Main Text: Mark 11:22-24

Faith in the Fiery Furnace

Here is a summary of the narrative in Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon made an image of gold and demanded that all worship it. Daniel’s friends – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego disobeyed the king by not worshipping the image because they believed in the King of Kings. The result – the three Hebrew men were thrown into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, but God rescued them. However, before this episode, they made this startling statement of faith:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18 NKJV

God Can Do It

Faith asks us to depend on God because He has the ability to do all things (Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:27, Luke 18:27). Several stories in the Bible confirm this and we have experienced His works in our lives too. He can save (Romans 5:8). He can heal (The woman with the issue of blood, Luke 8:43-48). He can give life (Lazarus, John 11). He can take life (Ananias & Sapphira, Acts 5:1-11). He can set the captives free (Israelites, The Book of Exodus).

God Will Do It

“God will do it” means that we can expect Him to do it. Faith in this sense, therefore, means expectation. To have faith in God for something means to expect that He will do it.

The emphasis is not on that it will happen, but that God will do it. If we are on God’s side, we can count on Him to show up when we need Him. How do we know that God will grant our request? Anytime He promises, He fulfils (Hebrews 10:23; Abraham, Genesis 15:4, Genesis 21:15).

Will God Do It?

“If God does not do it” is not a question of God’s ability and willingness, but a question of how far we are willing to believe in Him and His saving power.

If we are waiting on God for an answer to a request and it seems not to be coming forth, could it be because He has said “No”? Could it be because He has said: “Wait”? Does God ever say “No” or “Wait”?

We may not yet fully understand the whole dynamics of prayers and answers, but the Bible is very clear about how God responds to our requests.

  • Ask, believe, and receive (Mark 11:24). Ask in faith and don’t go back on your request. Don’t receive it today and ask for it tomorrow.
  • Ask in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14). We may ask for anything (a certain thing) in the name of Jesus within the confines of His will.
  • The most important thing is to abide in Him (John 15:7, Daniel 3:17 – “…our God whom we serve…”). Even if for whatever reason, He seems not to grant our request, or we do not receive the answer, we are confident that he is working on our behalf, for our good (Romans 8:28) and that He is our exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1). He is your inheritance (Psalm 16:5, Psalm 73:26, Ephesians 1:18) because you are loved (John 3:16, Galatians 2:20), forgiven (Psalm 103:3), redeemed (Galatians 3:13), holy (Hebrews 10:10), set apart (Jeremiah 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:21).


In today’s lesson, we have looked at the meaning of faith, especially from the point of view of what it does, rather than what it is. Faith asks us to believe that God can and that He will, but it also demands that we go all the way with God even when there are ups and downs, things don’t line up, and our expectations seem not met. In the subsequent lessons in this series, we will be looking at how to build our faith. However, we should let the story of the Hebrew men serve as a challenge to us. Can we stick our necks out for the Lord? Can we sacrifice for Him when compromising situations arise?

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