What is faith? Mat 9:28-29 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The Greek word in these typical examples is #4102 in the Concordance, pistis. The Greek scholar Zodhiates writes that the word in the context of the above verses is: "Being persuaded, faith, belief. In general it implies...knowledge of, assent to, and confidence in certain divine truths..." Tyndale's Illustrated Bible Dictionary says, "Faith is the attitude whereby a man abandons all reliance in his own efforts to obtain salvation, be they deeds of piety, of ethical goodness or anything else. It is the attitude of complete trust in Christ, of reliance on him alone for all that salvation means." Does the Bible give us some defining characteristics of faith? Yes, it does. Heb 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. Heb 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Young's Literal Translation expresses Heb. 11:1 in a way that might help us better appreciate the concept: And faith is of things hoped for a confidence, of matters not seen a conviction. (The Greek word elegchos can be seen to denote evidence, or proof, or conviction. I think this is because evidence or proof are what can convince or convict a person.) From all this we can see that faith is belief, being persuaded. Strong faith, as we shall soon see in the Bible, is a strong conviction... a firm persuasion...a living (lively) faith... a belief strong enough to spur action. Mat 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. How did Jesus see the faith of these men? Their faith was made visible by their action: they carried their sick friend to Jesus because they believed that Jesus could make him well. Jesus responded by healing the man and forgiving the man's sins. Mat 8:5-10,13 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel... And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. Here we see an example of strong faith in Jesus. The Roman soldier had heard about Jesus, he heard that Jesus had the power to heal people, and he believed what he heard. His belief was strong enough to spur him to action, to make a request of Jesus on behalf of a servant. The centurion understood that by Jewish custom a rabbi would be ritually defiled by stepping into a gentile's abode, so (and this is astounding) he believed so strongly in Jesus' power to heal, he actually believed that Jesus could do so from a distance (without actually touching the sick person). This was exceptional faith in the power of Jesus, and He was amazed. Jesus responded to him, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. The centurion received a positive answer to his request; Jesus healed the servant in response to the centurion's "great faith" in Him. Here is another example of strong faith: Luke 8:43-48 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. In that culture, a bleeding woman was not supposed to be out in public, because if she came into physical contact with another Jew that person would be rendered ritually unclean. There was some risk that she could be stoned for such an act. But this woman had heard of Jesus' healing power. She thought to herself, 'I don't dare touch or be touched by Jesus in my condition, but His healing power is so great that I can be healed just by touching the tassels of his prayer shawl.' So she acted on her belief: she made her way through a crowd of people (no telling how many she may have bumped into!) and touched Jesus' garment. Immediately Jesus knew, and He looked for the person whose faith was so strong as to draw healing power from Him by mere contact with His clothing. We can appreciate why the woman "came trembling" and fell down before Him! But Jesus comforted her and said, thy faith hath made thee whole. We can see that faith is believing, a conviction based on what we have heard. Strong faith is a conviction firm enough to spur us to act upon what we believe. The purpose of faith, the reason God gives us faith, is to affect (and hopefully govern) what we think and say and do; the foremost intended effect, of course, is to bring to us into God's family! 2Co 4:13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Is faith the words (or actions) we take? No. By definition, faith is the firmly held belief within us. How we express that faith in words or deeds, though important, is not faith in and of itself. Our words and deeds are manifestations (signs) of the faith that resides within our hearts. Words and deeds are ways in which our faith is demonstrated and can be seen by others.