What is faith? Sometimes we answer that question with closely associated words. “Faith is trust,” someone may say. Or, “Faith is belief,” says another. The older theologians—whom we would do well to follow—speak of it as a “firm and sure knowledge” and a “confidence.” Generally speaking, it’s agreed that faith is made up of knowledge, assent, and trust because it engages the mind and the will. To say it a little more poetically in the words of Martin Luther, “Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times.”
Now all of that is very good as far as it goes. But, what if we let faith speak for itself? Speak for itself! Does faith have a mouth? Does it have a voice with which to speak? It does! And this living, daring confidence finds expression in a hundred–probably a thousand–different ways, on the pages of Scripture. Open your Bible and see if you can hear the sound of faith. It’s everywhere:
Faith is heard in the trust for provision, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Gen 22:8). It’s heard in the resisting of temptation, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9). It’s heard in the submission to providence, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:2). Faith is heard in the obedience of the people, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Ex 19:8). It’s heard in the petition of the aged conqueror, “So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day” (Josh 14:12). It’s heard in the pledge of a daughter, “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Faith is heard in the prayer of the barren and childless, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord” (1 Sam 2:1). It’s heard in the battle-cry of a boy, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head” (1 Sam 17:46). It’s heard in the fearlessness of a captain, “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him” (2 Sam 10:12). Faith is heard in the sorrow of a father, “Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam 12:23). It’s heard in the death of a king, “ For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure” (2 Sam 23:5). It’s heard in the confidence of a queen, “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Faith is heard in the groaning of the sufferer, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). It’s heard in the turmoil of the depressed, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps 42:11). It’s heard in the brokenness of the penitent, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Ps 51:2). Faith is heard in the joy of a mother, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:46-47). It’s heard in the plea of a helpless father, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24). It’s heard in the confession of the doubter, “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28). It’s heard in the request of the martyr, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Faith finds expression even on the cross of Calvary’s hill, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).
There it is! Faith expresses itself in want and need; temptation and guilt; sorrow and pain; joy and gladness; uncertainty and victory; lament and praise; and in living and dying. Again and again in perfect rhythm and harmony is the voice of living and daring confidence in God. What a wonderful sound is this sound of faith.