Faith, what is it?

I want to spend some time exploring faith. We throw the word around like we know what it is, but do we? I understand that the status quo is to continue as if we know something, it keeps us from looking stupid. That mentality will leave us powerless but looking good. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who look good but walk in zero power. 

Faith is a lot like how we Americans handle electronics, we get it, open the package, start using it, and never look at the instructions. However, other cultures open the box, get the instructions, read through the instruction, and then enjoy the full benefit of that device. I’m guilty of doing this myself. I own an iPhone and use about 10% of it’s potential, and when I can’t figure something out, I call my son who used to work for Apple, hoping he can help.

You have faith, you test faith, need more faith, stand in faith, walk in faith, and my favorite, use your faith. Yes, (in a religious voice), just use your faith, and there you have it, everything is okay. I don’t know why but the religious voice in my head always sounds like Dana Carvey doing the church lady. “Now isn’t that special.” You young punks can give that a Google.

A Greater Understanding 

I have said, “we can’t reproduce what we cannot define”. If faith is not reproduced, perhaps it’s because the definition is off. In the New Testament faith is defined as; assurance, belief, them that believe, and fidelity. One of the words for faith in the old testament is ā-mün’, it means faithfulness and trusting. Well, that doesn’t clear up a thing, does it? Here’s the problem, defining faith with just faithfulness and trusting, makes it sound like the weight of the function of faith is on us. As if we have to have enough of it or do something to gain more of it. If we’re sure enough, if we trust enough if we are faithful enough, then we will have faith. I don’t know about you, but if I could’ve figured this out on my own, I would have. 

I think we need to dig a bit deeper into the root word of ā-mün’.

 ā-mün’ = אֵמוּן = faithfulness, trusting, it sounds like “a-moon-a”.

The root word for ā-mün’ is ‘aman. You know, like the end of a prayer, ‘aman, not amen. That’s a whole other subject. I’m sure that’s no coincidence, that you would end of prayer with the phrase ‘aman. It’s like saying Father I’m asking for these things, and I seal it up by extending faith to it. Understanding’ aman is where we begin to discover the function and full benefit of faith.

‘aman = אָמַן = to support, confirm, be faithful, uphold, nourish, be like a foster-father and or a foster-mother, a nurse or pillars, like supporters for a door. ‘Aman also means to be established, be faithful, be carried, make firm, to be carried by a nurse, sure, verified, confirmed, to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in.

Most of the definitions of ‘aman make it sound as if you have very little to contribute to faith.

To The Scriptures

Let’s go to the Scriptures to look at how faith functions and how to receive the full benefits of it.

Numbers 11:11-12 King James Version (KJV)

11 And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?

12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?

In Numbers 11:12, Moses uses the words “nursing father”, that is the word “aman/faith”. I know this sounds strange that Moses would refer to himself as a nursing father, but this scripture gives us a picture of the word faith. A nursing child is entirely reliant on the one nursing them. Faith is like a nursing father. We are the ones being taken care of, faith is carrying us and supplying our needs. 

Are you beginning to get a different image of the way faith works? What does a child do to receive the benefit of being nursed? As far as I can tell, cry until you get it, embarrassing but reassuring.

Faith in this understanding is not something that we are generating but it is being generated for us. Moses was bearing the burden of all these people. The weight of bringing them into the promised land was on him. They were giving no effort towards the result.

A Better Definition of Faith

Ruth 4:16 (KJV)

And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.

2 Samuel 4:4 (KJV) 

And Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

The word nurse in these verses is ‘aman or in English, faith. I’m hoping you’re starting to get a new image of faith. Faith is a transport vehicle, an ambulance or a wheelchair, get the picture? We rest in the arms of faith, faith carries us to where we need to be. Unlike what happened to Mephibosheth, faith will not drop us.

Let’s Keep Exploring

Ester 2:5-7 (KJV)

5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;

6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

7 And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.

“Brought up” is the same word, ‘aman/faith. Faith brings us up like a foster father or a foster mother. Faith stands in the gap to bring us up into maturity. If you are like me, I always thought that maturity was the fact that I could walk by faith. Now understanding faith better, faith is a foster father developing maturity in me. A foster parent is meant to stand in the gap between what is missing and what is yet to be realized. I know that we have some pretty ugly pictures of foster parents out there, so please set them aside and see the image the Father is painting through his words. 

If the work of faith is to carry us and brings us to maturity, what is that maturity produce? That maturity provides a sense of being sure of yourself. A sense of being established, unmovable ready to accomplish what you were put on this earth to do. Think about the many trials you’ve already been through, faith has been the transport vehicle that feeds you, carried you, and brought you up into maturity. Maturity made you feel sure of yourself and established in what you know. Faith gets you there, but once you arrive, you do not need faith anymore. You are now sure, and being sure establishes your identity.

Psalm 19:7 (KJV)

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

1 Samuel 3:20 (KJV)

20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.

Yes, you got it, sure and established are the same word, ‘aman/faith.

Not to beat this into the ground, but let me put it another way. When you were young, you used faith to learn how to operate a bicycle. You knew that at any time, you could wipe out, fall, and get hurt. Your parents walked you through or carried you through the process of learning how to ride a bike. Now when you get on a bike, you don’t use faith. You use belief because you are sure and established.  

Faith Establishes Belief 

Believed and believe are also the Hebrew word ‘aman/faith.

Genesis 15:6 (KJV)

6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

This verse could read, “and he (Moses) was carried, nursed, and brought into maturity by the father. Maturity produced a sense of being sure and established, resulting in belief, and that is righteousness.”

Belief Reveals the Strength of God

Isaiah 53:1 (KJV)

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

Isaiah 53 is about Yeshua/Jesus and what He will go through and accomplish. It is a chapter devoted to revealing the Savior. Some Jews call it the Forbidden chapter. They are waiting for the Messiah to appear. They have forgotten the fact that there are two Messiahs in Jewish understanding. The suffering Messiah revealed through Joseph, and the conquering Messiah revealed in King David. It is considered the forbidden chapter because some have not taken into consideration that the Messiah must suffer first. Then be seated as King.

If you look at what faith produces in this verse, it is a revelation of the strength of God. When the strength of God is revealed, what it produces is the culmination of faith.

The Culmination of Faith

1 Kings 8:26 (KJV)

26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.

Yet again, the word “verified” is the word ‘aman/faith.

The result of faith is the verification that the Father is at work in us. Those around watch us being carried, nursed and brought up into a place of being sure and established. Our belief brings us through places where we can’t see Him, it verifies His work. Verification is the strength of the Father. It is his arm being revealed to the world around us. As you walk through the steps of faith, realize the result is exposing His strength to the world around us.

Now Faith Is

I would encourage you to apply your newfound definition of faith to the 11th chapter of Hebrews. I believe you’ll see a whole new perspective on how the men and women of God can be called faithful. We know many of them did sinful, foolish things, and yet the Father list them here, among the heroes of faith.

The next time that you feel like you do not have enough faith or someone is trying to tell you that your faith is not strong enough to accomplish what God wants. Please recall this teaching and apply it to your situation. Lean into the Father allow Him to carry you, nurse you, and bring you up to a place of being sure and established. Then belief is accounted to you as righteousness will reveal the strength of the Father.

Shalom,  Pastor Brendt Wills