What Is Faith? (Faith — Part 1)

A small girl stands on the end of a dock looking down at the surface of a lake. She can’t swim. The water is dark and the bottom is black — she has no idea how deep it is.  But she knows it’s over her head.  Should she jump? She hesitates, then closes her eyes and propels herself outward.

Her father catches her as soon as she touches the water and together they laugh.  The father puts the girl back up on the dock. She asks, “Can I do it again?”

The girl is not afraid.  She has faith in her father.  Her faith is strong enough to allow her to enjoy something that would normally terrify her.  Faith has incredible power.

Before you study “faith,” it’s a good idea to make sure you know what the word means.

Write your definition of “faith.”


Here’s what Webster’s Third New International Dictionary has to say: 1) The act or state of wholeheartedly and steadfastly believing in the existence, power, and benevolence of a supreme being. 2) Firm or unquestioning belief in something for which there is no proof.  3) An assurance, promise, or pledge of fidelity, loyalty, or performance.  4) Something that is believed or adhered to with strong conviction.

Which of these definitions most closely matched yours?


Hebrews 11:6 says: But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

In this verse, the object of faith is God.  But right now you’re only concerned with the meaning of the word.  It is clearly defined as belief.

When you see the word “faith” in the New Testament, it is almost always a translation of the Greek word “pistis.” It comes from the Greek word “peitho,” which means “persuasion.”  (Often, the word “trust” is used interchangeably with the word “faith.”  Trust is also translation of the Greek word “peitho.”)

What does “persuade” mean to you?


When you persuade someone, you give them faith. You bring them to a belief, a conviction based upon something they’ve heard.  (Remember that.  You’ll get a lot deeper into the importance of “hearing” in the next lesson.)

Faith is solid, absolute belief.  It isn’t theory.  It isn’t supposition.  When you have faith in something or someone, you KNOW it.  You don’t think it.  You’ve been fully persuaded.

Hebrews 11 is often called the Faith Chapter because it gives so many examples of individuals who had solid, absolute faith.  Look at just one of the examples.  Hebrews 11:29 says: By faith they [the Israelites] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying [attempting] to do were drowned.

Again, don’t concentrate on the object of the faith.  Think instead on the substance of the faith.  The Israelites were being pursued by the Egyptians.  They were trapped against the shore of the sea.  They were afraid and had doubts about their future.  But Moses spoke to them.  He KNEW the Lord would deliver them.  So they went on.  They didn’t give up.  They had faith. The next time you’re at a lake or river, walk through it and don’t get wet.  Just head right out into the water and walk across the bottom and come out dry.  You can’t do it.  You KNOW you can’t do it.  Water doesn’t work that way.  The Israelites KNEW water doesn’t work that way.  But in this one situation, they KNEW it would be different.  They didn’t hesitate.  They had faith.

Remember the little girl in the opening story?  She didn’t hesitate to jump off the dock. Her father was there, and he wouldn’t let anything happen to her. She had faith.  She KNEW.

What do you have faith in?  What are the rock-solid absolutes in your life?  What do you KNOW?  List several.


This is the first in a series of lessons I wrote for high school students on a missions trip.