The purpose of this post is to Biblically define the word “Faith”. This is actually a very important thing to do. Many functionally define faith as belief without reason, or a warm fuzzy feeling in their heart. When you apply this misconception to scripture it poisons your hermeneutic with falsehood.
I am going to assert and then prove that Faith is a noun, not a verb. Faith is a substance that God places inside of you. It is something that you cannot have on your own or obtain through secular means.
|Faith can be quantified|
My first argument in this post is that you can quantify faith. This is a big part of why I believe it is a noun. You cannot quantify a verb in the sense of one possessing it.
“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matt 17:20 KJV
“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” Luke 17:5-6 KJV
Above we see that faith the size of a mustard seed is great enough to produce a verb of moving a mountain. I would argue that this is not a goal one is to actually expected to obtain, you can never have enough faith to command a literal mountain to move. Go outside and try it! I think what is being illustrated here is that since you cannot muster faith to move a mountain, neither can you muster saving faith on your own either.
“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Matt 6:30 KJV
“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matt 14:31 KJV
“And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” Matt 8:26 KJV
Notice above Jesus is quantifying their faith as “little”, and that because of this they were in a state of fear.
“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” Matt 15:28 KJV
Above Jesus quantifies her faith as “great” and a miracle happens in the presence of God.
“And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” Mark 4:40 KJV
My overall point by posting these verses is that faith can be quantified. I would argue that this supports my thesis as a noun or substance can exist in greater or lesser quantities. Verbs however cannot be quantified, and can only be performed by nouns.
|Verbs come out of faith|
I would Biblically assert that faith as a noun which verbs pop out of. For example, because one has faith they also believe. This is significant because it demonstrates that one cannot believe without faith.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Cor 5:7 KJV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV
Above I would argue that we are seeing belief springing forth from faith.
“19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me….. 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Mark 9:19, 23 KJV
With this passage in Mark we see that a lack of faith is being connected symbiotically with an inability to believe. I would argue that faith and belief are not the same, but they are certainly related. If one does not believe then they have not faith. But one cannot muster faith to believe, as they cannot place more of a noun inside of themselves that they don’t possess in the first place
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Cor 2:5 KJV
I think it is interesting above that faith is supposed to stand. Clearly this is a figurative use of the word stand, but even in a figurative sense faith is performing an action.
|Faith is a Gift|
Faith is not a substance you can obtain under your own power, but rather the Bible states that it is a gift from God. Read the next verse carefully.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Eph 2:8 KJV
What is the referent for the word “it”? Read it one more time if you have to. I would argue that the word “it” refers to both grace and faith. Both are given to us by God and function as means by which righteousness is imputed. There are many places one can go with this, but I will stop right here by pointing out that gifts are nouns. You cannot give someone a box of running or jumping.
|Faith as an object|
“And he said unto them, Where is your faith?….” Luke 8:25 KJV
Faith can have a location
“testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21 KJV
Faith can also be “in” something
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1 KJV
The above verse actually calls faith a substance, which works nicely for my thesis. Other translations use the word “evidence” and while that works with my thesis it doesn’t proof-text it as easily which I why I felt the need to make a study out of the topic.
In earlier posts I made the argument that God uses means of Grace to give us faith. I think this is more clearly understood when faith is defined as a substance. Obviously the implications are quite significant. For starters, it would be misleading for a Christian to refer to another religion as a different faith. Biblically the only faith in existences is given by God, and is in Christ. So another religion would actually have no faith at all.
Secondly this undermines a cultic view on faith as blind thoughtless belief abstract of reason. The burning passion in your bosom is not faith, it’s an emotion.
Lastly, I would argue that this completely strips decision theology of its entire premise. Analyzing that will have to wait for another post on another day as its rather complex and beyond the scope of what I am writing about today. What are you’re thoughts? Let me know in the comments. If you wish to repeat my study the only source I used in this one was a concordance. This is one of the easier posts I have put together but it means a lot of me.