Hebrews 1:1 furnishes the best definition of faith. It says faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Two words become very important in this definition. The first is assurance, and the other is conviction. The New international version uses the words confidence and assurance. The words give the sense that faith is factual and reasonable; that is, it is evidence-based. And that anyone who has faith believes in what he is most convinced of.
Saving Faith is Equal for All
We know that for anyone to come to God they must first believe in Jesus Christ (John 3:16), for he is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Believing in Jesus means that you are convinced of the fact that Jesus is the son of God who came on earth, lived a sinless life, and through his death you are saved (Romans 3:23). It also means that you believe that God exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). In this sense, there is no one who has greater faith than the other, the faith that saves you from sin and the wrath of God unto righteousness and eternal life is equal in all believers for they received a faith of equal standing by the righteousness of God and their Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1). This faith is a gift of grace so that no one can boast of their salvation (Ephesians 2:8). That said, faith in God comes to a person by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). In Christianity people have no ranks of people, there is no such thing as someone being close to God than the other for we all heard the word of God which gave us the same faith everyone else has, it is the same faith even the bible Characters had.
Different Measures of Faith
But at the same time, Jesus talks about faith in a way of measure. At some point, he said, ‘You of little faith’ (Matthew 8:26); in another place, to show that faith can be different, he said,” Truly, I tell you, no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Lastly, Jesus showed the power of having little faith in God by telling his disciples that it can move mountains and nothing will be impossible for them (Matthew 17:20-21). Was Jesus contradicting himself in speaking against little faith and, on the other hand, encouraging his disciples to have just as much as the size of a mastered seed? Is the Bible contradicting itself by saying, on the one hand, that we are of a faith of equal standing? Yet again, other passages speak of different measures of faith.
Three Sense of Faith
Faith in the Bible is used in three senses. First is covenantal faith, which connotes entering a covenant with God (following and worshiping only him) and performing all that he requires of you in all faithfulness. The people of Israel entered into a covenant with God that they would put away all the other gods and only worship and do what Yahweh commanded them (Joshua 24:14). This is the sense by which 2 Peter 1:1 uses faith; that all who believe in Jesus have entered into an equal standing covenant of faith with God.
Secondly, there is faith as a spiritual perception. There is a common philosophy that faith is blind; the Bible does not portray faith as such. According to the Bible, faith opens believers’ eyes to a spiritual perspective. As believers, many can see and understand things that those in sin cannot. Paul said in 1 Corinthians. 5:7, that the righteous shall walk by faith, not by sight. This is the same language he is using in 1 Corinthians 2:5, that faith should rest in the power of God, and that is only possible for those who are in the spirit, for those in the flesh would not be able to understand the things of the Spirit of God for they can only be Spiritually understood (1 Corinthians 2:14). The things of the Spirit of God are what Paul has decided to know and teach; namely Jesus Christ and him crucified. The Greeks, who didn’t have faith, considered it foolish, while the Jews, who had no faith in Jesus, considered him a stumbling block.
Lastly, faith is also manifested through believing in the things to come. The Bible has numerous promises on what will come and happen on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible encourages us to look forward to that day as it will surely come to pass. This faith foresees that though we are on earth now, we will soon be in heaven with God. We believe this way because of the promises we have heard of the things to come (1 Corinthians 4:5). We live not as people of the world because we are citizens of heaven, waiting eagerly for Christ to come and take us home (Philippians 3:20-21).
Faith in itself is nothing. The object of our faith is what makes it count. Christians believe that God exists and will save all who come to him through Jesus Christ in faith from sin and damnation in hell (Romans 3:23). In Matthew 8:23-27, there was a great storm, and Jesus was asleep; the disciples were afraid, and cried out to Jesus, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” Jesus replied, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” If you ask the question, why did Jesus say that their faith was little? The answer is direct- they were only afraid of perishing, yet he slept peacefully there with them. You would think they would believe they are in the safest hands since they were with Jesus.
Jesus had done so many wonders among them; they had seen him casting out demons, healing the sick, walking on water, raising the dead, and yet they were afraid that they would die in the storm. Jesus called their faith little because if they only knew who he was, they would have known that this storm was nothing compared to his power and might. We, too, have such conversations with others; consider your dad paying your school fees, then when you don’t have books, you cry to him as one who will die since you think he cannot get you that book. Won’t he think you have so little faith in him? When we believe God can do and change some things in our lives and not others, we end up living in fear concerning other areas that we perceive God cannot help us in. This indicates little faith in God.
In the second sense, Jesus again uses the terms little/small faith when talking to the disciples who could not heal a boy with demonic possession (Matthew 17:19-20). Jesus tells the disciples that they are not confident that God can heal the boy through them. They were not trusting God for the boy’s healing; hence, he continued to say that little faith in God can do much more than faith in yourself or other things. The disciples believed they had the power to cast out demons instead of trusting that God was the only one to bring such healing. They were faithless and twisted (Matthew 17:17). Depending on the circumstance, little faith might mean doubt or a lack of faith in God, as we have seen in the above passages.
How to Grow in Faith
The way faith grows is in the way faith it is fuelled and nurtured. As we have learned, faith comes by hearing the word of God; therefore, faith grows by letting the word of God dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). You have faith in someone as you know them; the more you know about a person, the more you trust them. Growing in faith is contingent on how much we know about God. The Centurion heard about Jesus, and based on that, he sought out Jesus for the healing of his servant. Based on his knowledge of Jesus, he told Jesus,” Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” As a man of authority, he knew that Jesus had even greater authority, and his words were enough to heal his servant.
Jesus commends his faith, and this is so because the Centurion’s faith rested in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5). The Centurion knew that only Jesus had the power to heal his servant. His knowledge of Jesus is what made his faith as such. To grow in faith is to know God more, and we know God through his word, so you have to listen to good scriptural preachings and spend time reading and studying scripture for your faith to grow.
Since faith is covenantal, we have part of the covenant to perform. James says that if you say you have faith and do not do good works, your faith is dead (James 2:17). You became a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, you must live your life differently as a child of God. Obedience helps our faith in God because it diverts our trust from ourselves to God in all matters, even when it seems foolish in human eyes. Christ obeyed God to death because he believed that God would raise him from death and restore him to glory. Walk by the spirit, and you will grow from faith to faith (Romans 1:17) until we all appear before God (Psalm 84:7). Don’t just let go and let God; live actively as one who is born again.