Real Biblical faith is a conviction—a belief that is so strong that it will cause us to think, to speak, and to act differently.
Faith is not necessarily a confession, nor is it an action. Faith is a deep conviction that produces a confession or an action. Some people think that speaking confessions or performing actions that seem like faith mean that they have faith. But if we examine their hearts, there is no belief behind what they are doing. And then they run into problems.
This can be frustrating if we don’t understand how faith works.
The New Testament contains two testimonies of people with great faith (Of course there are more, but for our study on faith, we’ll look at these two!).
The Faith of the Centurion
Matthew 8:5-10 (ESV)
“When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant,[a] ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel[ have I found such faith.”
We can see the centurion’s faith by his words. But what he is saying isn’t some kind of faith confession that someone taught him. In fact, there’s nowhere in the scriptures where people are taught to recite a confession—a prescribed prayer or profession of a belief. There’s nowhere that teaches us to repeat words over and over, and that will come out as faith—nowhere!
You will find confessions of faith, but these are only natural outflows from a person’s heart, from what they already believe (out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks!).
You see, the centurion didn’t keep repeating to himself, “I believe my servant will be well, I believe my servant will be well…”, yet Jesus said the man had great faith! In fact, his faith was so great that he didn’t even need Jesus to lay hands on his servant, he just wanted Jesus to command the man to be healed—even from a great distance away!
It was the same with the fig tree—Jesus didn’t curse that fig tree over and over, “confessing” his faith over it. No, he used his words to speak out an authoritative command, a command that He had faith would come to pass. The words “no one shall eat fruit of you ever again” were meaningful and powerful because of the assurance behind them, or the faith behind them.
But what about the woman with the issue of blood? It is true, she kept saying to herself, “if I just touch the hem of his garment…”, but again, it wasn’t a learned confession. She was convinced in her own heart, and therefore she spoke according to what she already believed. She had faith in what she was saying.
So it’s true—our faith is evident because of our confession.
And yes, Jesus did tell us to speak to the mountain. We need to. But the truth is there must be a connection between what you are saying and what is in your heart—empty words won’t produce results. Until what you are saying is a product of what you already have a firm conviction of inside, your faith won’t work.
Matthew 15 is the other instance of great faith.
The Faith of the Canaanite Woman
“And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.”
Though Jesus’ words seemed harsh, this woman was not deterred. She kept on asking, pressing.
Faith is an attitude that does not take “no” for an answer. The spirit of faith says that “no is not an acceptable answer.”
After Jesus teaches about the Lord’s prayer, he gives the disciples something to think about.
Faith: Ask and Receive
“Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence[c] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
That word “impudence” really means something along the lines of audacious or shameless. Someone who is in faith is not ashamed of their persistence. A person of faith is so convinced that God will do what He said that, no matter what the circumstances look like, they will not take “no” for an answer.
God is no respecter of persons, but He IS a respecter of faith. The Bible says that His eyes search the whole Earth for those whose hearts are “fully committed to him“. When your heart is His and you are convinced of His goodness, His faithfulness, and His trustworthiness, there is no reason for you not to trust in His Word. There is no reason for you to not have faith. You will be fully convinced of receiving the promises, and you will have whatsoever you say. You will have it because of your faith.