Faith is not religion. Many times people say "We have our faith". What they mean is this: "We have our religious ideas and doctrines, our traditions, our ways of doing things passed down through the generations. Don't you try to change them." This is not the Biblical idea of faith.
Faith is not mental assent. It is not agreeing with your mind, "Yes, that is true." Many professing Christians believe mentally that the Bible is the Word of God, but this faith does not change the way they live. It is not a faith that can save. (James 2:14)
Even demons have that kind of faith. They know and believe that God exists (James 2:19) - and tremble. They have no lovingconfidence in God.
Faith is not a way to manipulate God. It is not a power by which we make God do what WE want when otherwise He would be unwilling to do that thing. It is not a kind of magic through which we make God into our servant!
Faith is not hope, nor positive desire. Hope is good, and relates to the future. Faith, however, takes the promise as done NOW. Many people have hope and are anxiously looking for results, but they lack the settled confidence and present assurance which faith has.
In the general sense of the word, to have faith is to believe in something or someone, to fully trust, to be so confident that you base your actions on what you believe. To have faith is to be fully convinced of the truthfulness and reliability of that in which you believe.
Faith in God then, is having the kind of trust and confidence in God and in Christ that leads you to commit your whole soul to Him as Saviour (Justifier, Cleanser, Healer, Deliverer) and Lord (Master, King).
The NIV translation says, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).
The NKJV of the Bible says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith is a spiritual substance. When you have this spiritual substance in you, it communicates to you a certain inner knowing that the thing you are hoping for is certainly established, even before you see any material evidence that it has happened.
Faith is a spiritual force. Faith in God is a response to God's Word which moves God to act. Jesus said in Mark 11:23, "For assuredly I say to you, whoever SAYS to this mountain, 'Be removed and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but BELIEVES that those things he SAYS will be done, he will HAVE whatever he SAYS." Words mixed with the real, pure faith can and will move mountains or any other problem that we face.
Faith in God must be from the heart. It is not merely intellectual. It is spiritual. "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:10)
Faith causes you to know in your heart before you see with your eyes. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2Cor 5.7)
Some say, "Seeing is believing." Once you see the thing hoped for already existing in the natural order, you don't need faith.
Hope is a condition for faith. Hope is "a positive unwavering expectation of good". Hope is for the mind (1 Thessalonians 5:8; Hebrews 6:19), an anchor for the soul. It keeps us in the place where we can believe, but it is not in itself "faith". Yet, without hope there are no "things hoped for", and therefore there cannot be faith.
Through faith we can know we have the answer to our prayer before we see anything change in the natural order (1 John 5:14,15). Jesus said, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mk 11:24). God expects us, even commands us, to believe that our petitions are answered by God AT THE MOMENT WE MAKE THEM. We must believe that the response is immediately sent WHEN we pray. Faith is like the confirmation slip in our hearts that the goods are on the way. We have that confirmation slip instantly from God. We sense it in our hearts. The manifestation of those goods, the answer received, comes later as long as we are patient and do not throw away our confidence. (Hebrews 10:35-39; Hebrews 6:12)
Faith is like a cheque. All you have to do is hold on to the cheque, go to the bank to present it and you can confidently expect the money to appear in your account after a certain time. If you throw the cheque away the money will not be put in your account. God is trustworthy and always has resources to back his promises.
Living faith always has corresponding actions. We talk what we really believe, and we act according to what we really believe. The heroes of faith like Abraham were considered men of faith because they acted on what God showed them. They acted on their faith. (Hebrews 11:17-38, James 2:21-23).
To live in faith means to do and say what you believe is right, without doubting.
Faith is a rest. It is compatible with inner peace. It is not "trying to believe". To say that you are "trying to believe" God is to say that you don't believe Him. The man who is "trying to believe" may be sincere, but he does not have faith in that area yet.