A Biblical Look at Faith

January/February, 2018
Volume 53, Number 1

Faith is foundational for the Christian life. All throughout history, people have needed faith to both believe God and to please God. Hebrews 11:2 says that “the people of old gained approval” from God, because of their faith. This means that they were both praised and recognized by God as people who held fast to Him and trusted Him, even when their situations seemed bleak. And so, those mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 have often been described as “heroes of the faith,” because they believed God and did not cave to the difficulties of their circumstances.

Sometimes faith is needed for an immediate situation, perhaps a moment of danger or threat. Like when Ahaz (king of Judah) was being threatened by Rezin, king of Syria and Pekah, king of Israel. God said to Ahaz, through the prophet Isaiah, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9b). Or when the children of Israel were trapped against the banks of the Red Sea, with Pharaoh and his army closing in. Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:13).

But faith is not only needed for immediate threats, but also for prolonged periods of weariness and injustice. In Luke 18, Jesus told The Parable of the Persistent Widow, who refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. And she wore down the unjust judge of the town by her persistent pleas for justice. Jesus said, “And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8a). Jesus promised that the prayers of the elect would be answered quickly. But He ended this teaching with a question, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:8)? Jesus seems to be hinting here that when He comes again, the presence of sustained, loyal prayer, which is a sign of faith, may be hard to find. Please read the following article for a more in-depth look at the subject of faith.                                     — Eric Brubaker


by Harold S. Martin

Faith is one of the basic ingredients involved in getting right with God. We come into the Christian life (and receive the forgiveness of sins) through faith.

–Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”

–Galatians 3:26 says that we are “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

–Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The central thought in these verses—-is that God sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world—–and on Calvary He paid the price for our redemption—and faith is the channel by which that redemption becomes effective for us.

But faith involves much more than just getting right with God. The whole Christian life is dependent upon faith. One of our favorite Bible passages says: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live…I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). In this article we want to recognize some key factors about faith.


The word “faith” is a prominent word in the Bible. In the original Greek text, the words “faith”—“believing”—“trusting” are all from the same root word. Hebrews 11:6 says that “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith is an absolute essential for salvation. Jesus says, in Mark 16:16, “He who believes—–and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe (he who has no faith)—-will be condemned.”

In other words, without faith it is impossible to get right with God——but it is also true, that without faith, the Christian cannot please God in his daily life.

The Bible admonishes Christians: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (Colossians 2:6). We received Christ by faith—-now we are to walk daily in the same manner—-by faith. There are various degrees of faith.

–Some have “no faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2).

–Some have “little faith” (Luke 12:28).

–Others have “great faith” (Matthew 8:10).

–Still others are “rich in faith” (James 2:5).

One can be poor in material things and still be rich in faith—-but to have no faith—-is to be outside the scope of God’s grace.


Faith is a conviction—-of the reality of things—-which we do not see. It doesn’t take faith to see a tree—if you are walking through a forest. Faith is related especially to things that we cannot see. Faith is believing the unexplainable (and that which we cannot see)—-because someone in whom we have confidence says it is so.

–Faith is confidence, reliance, trust.

–Real biblical faith rests upon the authority of God’s Word.

True faith is a matter of accepting as real—–the things which have been revealed in the Word of God. In other words, the Christian’s faith rests upon the reliability of the Scriptures.

One evidence for the truthfulness of the Bible is the testimony of archaeology.    Archaeologists dig up the ruins of ancient civilizations—and wherever they have uncovered evidence, the results have always confirmed the Bible.

Another evidence for the reliability of Scripture is the Bible’s scientific accuracy. Early civilizations believed that the earth was flat, and that it was a platform resting on the backs of elephants. But Job—–in the Bible—-uttered a strictly scientific truth when he said, “God hangs the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).

A further evidence of the trustworthiness of Scripture is the Bible’s fulfilled prophecy. The twenty-second Psalm, for example, describes the crucifixion of Jesus with great accuracy—-and yet crucifixion was a means of execution that was unknown in the days of the Psalmist. The prophecies of the Bible have been amazingly accurate.

The crowning evidence of the Bible’s accuracy is the testimony of Jesus. Jesus quoted an obscure passage from the Old Testament, and said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Jesus said at another place, “Till heaven and earth pass away, not one (dotting of the i or crossing of the t)—shall pass from the law until all be fulfilled.”

And so—I’m thoroughly convinced that the Bible is the Word of God—that it is a Book we must live by and die by—and that it is true and trustworthy in every way. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing “by the word of God.” Our faith is not a careless unfounded thing.

It’s not like the little boy who tried to describe faith by saying “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” It’s not that at all! True faith is based on reliable and tested testimony—-the Word of God.

Faith is a conviction of the reality of things that we cannot see. The Christian religion is a “faith” religion—-but that conviction is real—because our resource (the Word of God) is trustworthy.

Two little girls were counting out their pennies one day. One said, “I have five pennies;” the other said, “I have ten.” “No,” the first little girl said. “You have five pennies—the same as I have.” “But”—-the second girl replied quickly, “My dad said that when he comes home tonight—-he will give me five pennies, and so I have ten pennies.”

The little girl had complete faith in her father’s word. Knowing her father as the little girl did, it was completely safe for her to speak of those pennies as her possession. Her faith rested completely in the character of her father. And just so, the Christian has confidence in the Word of God—and thus we too can speak of God’s promises as actual realities.

What is faith? It is believing the seemingly impossible and the unexplainable—and that which we cannot see—because someone in whom we have confidence says it is so.


It is possible to put confidence in the wrong object—the wrong place—or the wrong person. In other words—-not all faith pleases God! In our day the word “faith” is often used in a vague and indefinite way. I have heard folks say, “Well, you must have faith.” But faith—–in what? The word “faith” has become a kind of popular thing.

The scientist and philosopher and actor and politician and cab-driver and prize-fighter and the housewife—–all are ready to recommend faith as a remedy for our ills. If we only believe hard enough—-we’ll make it somehow. What you believe (they imply) is not so important; just so you believe.

–Believe in yourself.

–Believe in your family.

–Believe in freedom.

–Believe in goodness.

Just believe—-even if the circumstances of life are totally against us. But such a view of faith has some false implications. The fact which is overlooked is this: Faith is a good thing only when it engages truth.

Charles Spurgeon often told about two men in a boat above Niagara Falls. The boat upset, and both men were struggling in the rushing waters of the river (above the Falls). Friends on the shore threw a rope to them. One man grabbed the rope and was pulled to safety. The other man desperately hung on to the overturned boat—-and eventually was carried to his doom (over the Falls).

Both men trusted. But for one, the trust was misplaced confidence. In the Christian religion—the object of true faith is Jesus Christ—-and it is the Word of God that reveals the truth about Him.


Walking by faith accomplishes a number of good things.

a) For one thing it provides boldness in witness.

In 2 Corinthians 4:13, Paul spoke about having faith—and then said, “I believed, and therefore I have spoken.” If one believes thoroughly that God is real, that Heaven is real, that Hell is real—-and that Jesus Christ is the only escape from the wrath of God—–he will be more bold and confident to share that message with others. Living by faith tends to provide boldness in witness.

b) Walking by faith also results in good works.

One who has a genuine faith will prove the reality of that faith by the practice of good deeds—with particular reference to clothing the poor and feeding the hungry.     James 2:14-16 says, “What does it profit . . . (if) someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is … destitute of daily food, and one of you says to him, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled’”—and then we give him no food, what does it profit? It will not do any good to say, “We’ll pray for you and surely God will take care of you.” One who lives by faith will demonstrate the sincerity of that faith by giving a coat or a casserole to someone who is in need.

c) Walking by faith produces victory over the world.

We read in 1 John 5:4, “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” One who lives by faith—–doesn’t make the world’s opinions his standards of right and wrong. He doesn’t mind going against the stream of this world’s customs and fads. He separates from the vain customs—-and the wicked morals of this world system.

By faith—–he knows that this world is going to pass away, and that those who walk after the flesh are headed for judgment—–and that God has better things prepared for those who serve Him.

d) Another achievement of faith is that living by faith makes real the promise of a glorious future.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is a firm conviction that even those things which the natural eye has never seen—–are indeed very real.

The eye of faith—-looks forward to someday—-meeting with Jesus; to eternal fellowship with God; to walking on streets of gold. The Bible talks about these things. These are some of the “things hoped for.” Those promises are real to the person of faith.

e) To walk by faith will set us free from anxious care.

Jesus says (in Matthew 6:30), “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, 0h you of little faith?” And then He goes on and says in essence: “So don’t worry about having enough food and clothing; your Heavenly Father knows perfectly well that you need these things—and He will give them to you—if you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”

Faith produces freedom from anxious care. When believers—-suffer reverses and calamities—they do not behave as if the bottom has fallen out of the universe. The person who lives by faith—–shows composure and tranquility even when hard places come. We believe in the living God. We believe that the very hairs of our heads are numbered. We are confident that God reigns—and that not a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge. So why should we be fretting, and filled with worry, and distrust, and anxiety? Doesn’t the Lord have the whole world in His hands? Doesn’t He know about even the trivial details of our lives?

There are two interesting verses in the Bible, related to the matter of anxiety and anxious care. Matthew 10:29 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?”  Luke 12:6 says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?”

Some time ago, I was walking down a street, when all of a sudden I heard a thud—and saw a sparrow on the ground—-his little paws stretched upward. His swift flight through the air evidently brought him into collision with an electric wire—and he was electrocuted. It was only a passing incident—-just the death of a tiny sparrow.            I’m not sure that anyone else had noticed it. But like a flash, there came to mind the words of Scripture: “not a sparrow falls without your Father’s notice.”

These words express something about the tender care of God over the most insignificant objects of His creation—-and they illustrate God’s concern about the most trivial affairs in the lives of His believing children. The sparrow was sold as an article of food in the Palestinian markets. The little birds were so cheap that two of them were sold for a mere penny. This means that four of them should have been sold for two pennies, but the Bible says that five of them were sold for two pennies.

The sparrow was so insignificant that when a buyer came along with two pennies, the vendor threw in an extra sparrow—-and so a person could buy five of them for just two coins! Yet Jesus says of this one extra sparrow (the fifth sparrow)——which was almost worthless to the vendor——“Not one of them is forgotten before the face of God” (Luke 12:6).

And just as a tiny sparrow is ever before the face of God, so the most trivial details of our lives are always under His tender care. The point is: Genuine faith sets us free from undue anxious care!

There is a saving faith (the act of receiving God’s forgiveness for sin)—–and there is also a sustaining faith (the act of appropriating God’s resources for daily living).

Saving faith is an active, personal trust in Jesus—for salvation—it’s a matter of saying one great big “yes” to Jesus and His offer of eternal life.

Sustaining faith is a bit different.

Sustaining faith is the daily trust which is the very strength of the Christian life. Day by day, the sincere disciple of Jesus lives by faith.

We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). There is something really absurd about believing only what I can see. Likely nine out of every ten of the most wonderful things in life are things that cannot be seen.

There is the power of electricity and the love of a child and the fragrance of a rose. Yet the God who cares for the visible world——also has control of the invisible world—and to walk by faith—is to have confidence in God’s faithfulness even in the realm of the invisible.

Jesus said to Thomas, “You have seen and believed,” but “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). The principle of “sight” is really very insecure and changeable. It is alright to talk about “walking by sight” (believing only what you can see) when you are healthy and strong.

It’s okay to walk by sight—-when everything is going well—but what will you do when you’re sick with cancer, and you’re lying on your death bed? Do you want to live by sight then?

By way of contrast—-the principle of faith has many advantages. It does best in the dark. Day after day, the person who walks by faith, trusts God in all circumstances, knowing that even what appears difficult, and hard to understand, and mysterious to us—-can never be outside God’s good purpose for us.

John G. Paton, the missionary to the New Hebrides Islands, was translating the Gospel of John—but he could not find a native word for “believe.” How can you translate the Gospel of John without a word for “believe”? “Believe” is one of the key words of the Gospels. Then, one day, a native worker came to Mr. Paton’s office, and sat on one chair with his feet up on another. He used a native word which meant “I’m resting my whole weight on these two chairs.” And Mr. Paton said to himself, “I have my word.” He translated the Gospel of John, and every time he needed the word “believe,” he used the word which meant “I’m resting my whole weight upon.”

Think, for example, of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever rests his whole weight upon him, shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.” That is essentially what it means to “live by faith.” It means “to rest one’s whole weight” upon the Word of God, and upon the Christ whom it exalts.

There is a hymn entitled “Living by Faith.” It says, “I care not today what tomorrow may bring—–if shadow or sunshine or rain—–the Lord I know, rules over everything—-and all of my worry is vain.” The chorus says, “Living by faith, yes I’m living by faith in Jesus above——trusting, confiding in His great love. Safe from all harm—-in His sheltering arm——I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.”

May the Lord help each of us, to come to Christ by faith, and then to live day by day with simple trust in His care. Most of us have had honest questions—and at times—some honest doubts—but I pray that none of us will ever come to the point of sheer unbelief. Doubt is looking for light. Unbelief is being content with darkness. I pray this article will help us to dispel doubts—-and hopefully, it will forever keep us from rank unbelief.

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Come explore God’s Word with us!. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – Romans 10:17”


Captivity… Dreams… Rulers… Fire… Lions… Prayers… Kingdoms. From a dedicated youth to a faithful sage, Daniel’s life stands as an example to follow.  Yet beyond his personal life, God gifted Daniel with a message of future events.  Though difficult to grasp, these events would shape the world for the coming Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ as King.


Luke presents a warmly personal and historically accurate account of Jesus as “the Son of Man.” This course will survey the Third Gospel, with emphasis on the unique events, miracles, and parables of Jesus found in it.


This class will provide a broad overview of general church history. We will then focus on the Anabaptist and Pietist movements, especially as they relate to the formation and development of the Brethren groups. This is a two-part class. Plan to take both parts.


This course is intended to lay down a measure in a world where truth is slippery and often subject to interpretation. Where “Christian Values” become a political slogan, and “good people” are our allies despite their faulty core beliefs. Where Facebook “friends” post memes about the power of God, despite a lifestyle that is anything but Godly. In the process we often fight among ourselves, doing Satan’s work for him. The purpose of this course is to lay the measure of Jesus Christ against the cults, religions, and worship in our contemporary world.


While Protestant translations of the Bible contain 66 books, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize additional canonical books as well.  Where did these books, collectively known as the Apocrypha, come from and why aren’t they part of our Bible?  How reliable are they, and what value is there in studying them?


The goal of this class is to acquire a firm grasp of the teachings and themes of these two general epistles. Peter covers topics from salvation and suffering to spiritual deception and the return of Christ. These letters are packed with warnings and encouragements for Christian living.


A detailed study of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the “I Am” metaphors in John’s gospel. Why did Jesus describe himself in these terms? How do they relate to each other? We will look at spiritual and practical applications to further our Christian growth.


Have you ever been visited by someone who said they wanted to study the Bible with you so that you might discover the truth together?  Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to have much in common with evangelical Christians, and they seem to be well versed in the scriptures.  But what do they really believe and how can we effectively witness to those who have been ensnared by this false religion?


While we may consider Hosea as one of the minor prophets, his message vividly illustrates the major doctrine in all Scriptures.  The theme of God’s unconditional love is magnified and extended beyond those deserving it.  God expresses tender words towards His erring people inviting them to turn from sin to reconciliation with Him.


This course will look at basic principles and polity of leading the local church. We will examine the balance between upholding a spiritually focused organism of ministry and cultivating proper order for effective organization. Practical applications will be emphasized. This is a two-part class. Plan to take both parts.


The Brethren Bible Institute believes in the discipline of the whole person (spirit, soul, and body). We will aim to train students not only about how to study the Bible in a systematic way (2 Timothy 2:15), but also how to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). God calls Christians to the highest of character when He commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15), and holiness requires discipline.

Indulgence in the use of tobacco, alcoholic beverages, drugs, profanity, and gambling are forbidden at BBI. Objectionable literature will be prohibited. Students are asked not to use the college pool during the Institute. Each student must be thoughtful, and respect the rights of others at all times, especially during study and rest periods.

A friendly social group intermingling of students between class periods, and at general school activities is encouraged. Each student should enjoy the friendship of the entire group. At all times, highest standards of social conduct between men and women must be maintained. This means that all forms of unbecoming behavior and unseemly familiarities will be forbidden.

Personal appearance and grooming tell much about one's character. Students are expected to be dressed in good taste. In an attempt to maintain Scriptural expressions of simplicity, modesty, and nonconformity, the following regulations shall be observed while attending BBI.

MEN should be neatly attired and groomed at all times. Fashion extremes and the wearing of jewelry should be avoided on campus. The hair should not fall over the shirt-collar when standing, nor should it cover the ears.

WOMEN should wear skirts cut full enough and of sufficient length to at least come to the knees when standing and sitting. Form-fitting, transparent, low-neckline, or sleeveless clothing will not be acceptable. Slacks and culottes are permitted only for recreation and then only when worn under a skirt of sufficient length. Wearing jewelry should be avoided on campus. Long hair for women is encouraged and all Church of the Brethren girls (and others with like convictions) shall be veiled on campus.

The Institute reserves the right to dismiss any student whose attitude and behavior is not in harmony with the ideals of the School, or whose presence undermines the general welfare of the School, even if there is no specific breach of conduct.

The Brethren Bible Institute is intended to provide sound Bible teaching and wholesome Christian fellowship for all who desire it. The Bible School Committee worked hard and long at the task of arriving at standards, which will be pleasing to the Lord. It is not always easy to know just where the line should be drawn and we do not claim perfection. No doubt certain standards seem too strict for some and too loose for others. If you are one who does not share all these convictions, we hope you will agree to adjust to them for the School period, for the sake of those who do. We are confident that the blessings received will far outweigh any sacrifice you may have to make. If you have a special problem or question, please write to us about it. To be accepted as a student at BBI, you will need to sign a statement indicating that you will cooperate with the standards of the School.