Some people have very odd ideas about faith—so odd that here we need to clarify what, in fact, we are discussing when we talk about faith.
Faith is not believing something you know is not true; neither is it believing something for which there is no evidence. That is simply foolishness. The Bible is a big book all about faith, and in it we find a few facts about faith that will help us get the definition straight.
The elementary fact is that faith is a built-in part of all humans. We are born to be believers. If you think you have no faith, try it. Try not believing in anything or anybody—your wife, husband, doctor, bank, boss, baker or chef. There are no guarantees, yet we put our lives into the hands of surgeons, and we trust drivers of trains, cars and airplanes without thinking of faith. But that is what it is.
Faith is a kind of immune system to filter out fears that otherwise would paralyze all activity. When it fails, we develop all kinds of phobias and compulsions. It is a nervous breakdown. Jesus said to not have phobia but faith. (See Luke 8:50.)
If you stopped using this faculty of faith, you would never get out of bed in the morning or step outside. You might think the sky could fall down. In this world, a million cobra troubles are coiled to strike, but we carry on, usually quite aloof from them and confident. The Bible says, "God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). Christ said, "Only believe" (Mark 5:36), because we can.
Getting married is the best illustration of faith I know of. Has any bride or bridegroom ever imagined the other was perfect? Yet they commit themselves to each other for life, for better or worse. One bride refused to repeat the words, "I take thee for better or worse." She said, "I only take him for worse. I know he'll never be better." She still went ahead, confident but not optimistic.
There is no mystique about faith. Perhaps little children are the biggest believers. Many times I have lifted a child in my arms, but not once has the child screamed for fear of falling.
Jesus Himself carried a child as an illustrated sermon. He said the child carried a passport to the kingdom of God. Faith does not come by murdering common sense. It is not a peculiar psychology developed with great effort by saints in caves and living on bread and water. It is not peculiar at all. It is natural. Doubt is peculiar—irrational in fact. It is the only thing that ever surprised Jesus.
Sinners Can Believe
The next thing we must understand is what it means to be holy, to be a saint. People often confuse faith and virtue. Virtue is developed. By contrast, faith does not come in the same way that one learns the piano, grade by grade. People talk about "big believers" as if believing came in sizes, like suit jackets. But we can have faith even when we know we are not very good. Sinners can have faith; otherwise, they could never be saved. Nobody is good, but Christ taught us that all can believe. He commended some people for their faith, but they were foreigners, quite ignorant of doctrine.
The Bible does the same. It has an honor roll listing heroes and heroines of faith. (See Hebrews 11.) They are remembered not for valor or kindness but for their complete reliance upon God. Faith is a perfectly ordinary thing that makes us outstanding in the eyes of God, since "without faith it is impossible to please [God]" (Heb. 11:6). By faith it is possible to please God, and faith is possible for everybody.
Believe in What?
Another fact about faith is that we are what we believe. Thus, we need to monitor what we believe. We make the decision to believe, and what we believe, in turn, will define us. Some believe in UFOs, or that the earth is alive, or in voices from the dead; perhaps they just want to be different. In our lives, we are presented with millions of things we could believe in, but God is supreme. Above all else, He is the one worth believing in. Even in this modern world, surveys show that practically everybody believes in God—in some sort of God, somewhere. The question is, what sort?
Faith, the Character Test
In this way, believing tests us. The kind of God we believe in is a window into our souls—for example, the difference between believing in Christ or Karl Marx. We are what we believe. What does it say about us if we follow a faith that only demands a few prayers? Minimum-effort religions can be quite popular; they make small demands and gain a big following, cheap faith for lackadaisical people.
Jesus Christ asks for everything: "Son, give Me your heart." A broad religion is an easy road, but it gets narrower and goes nowhere. Faith in Christ is a narrow road that gets wider and leads somewhere. "The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18).
Internationally known evangelist and author Reinhard Bonnke is the author of Faith, the Link to God's Power, from which this article was excerpted. He founded the international ministry of Christ for all Nations (CfaN), which currently has offices in the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong.