is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do
not see. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews
Peter walked on the water towards Jesus, would you have walked
with him? Or would you have stayed safe in the boat, shaking
your head at the crazy things Peter did? Different levels
of faith are shown in these events: Jesus had complete faith
and walked on the water through the storm and wind; Peter
had enough faith to walk on water for a while; the other disciples
had only enough faith to be willing to take Jesus into the
boat despite their fears that he may have been a ghost.
1. Were Peter’s actions reasonable and responsible?
There was no need for him to walk on the water. Was it right
for him to test God in this way?
2. Can you think of any other cases where Peter seems to have
acted first and thought later?
3. Did the disciples satisfy Jesus’ demand for them
to have faith? Was the faith of any of them strong enough?
What went wrong with Peter’s faith? Why did he start
to sink? Are we ever in the same sort of situation? How do
we stop our faith from ebbing away? Can doubt be controlled?
5. Was Jesus fair in saying Peter had only little faith?
6. Why did Jesus tell Peter to walk to him on the water?
is faith and why bother about it?
In the Bible, faith is three things:
“the faith” as a set of beliefs;
faith as a certainty of things that cannot be seen.
Faith is vital because God tells us that without faith we
cannot hope to please him (Hebrews 11:6). God rewards those
who show a strong desire to find him although they cannot
Faithfulness is being reliable and loyal—sticking to
something through thick and thin. When we read of faith in
the New Testament, it is often this loyalty that is meant.
Loyalty and faithfulness are very important to God. He wants
us to make a commitment to him and never to switch our loyalty
from him. This is one aspect of the faith we need to have
in order to please God. Faithfulness is part of the fruit
of the spirit—it shows godliness is growing in us. Galatians
“The truth”, “the faith” and “the
way” are all used to describe the set of beliefs that
Jesus gave to his disciples to preach all over the world.
Holding to the faith is an essential part of what is required
to please God.
Being sure of what we do not see
This is the most beautiful form of faith and the one that
springs first to mind. Through it, David opposed Goliath,
Daniel’s three friends refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s
idol and Jesus and Peter could walk on water. Spectacular
things have been done by faith and these grab our attention.
According to Jesus, someone with an amount of faith as small
as a mustard seed would be able to tell a mountain to move
and it would. He summed it all up by saying that nothing would
be impossible for the man who had faith. Matthew
So why aren’t there more mountains moving around? Has
nobody got enough faith? The Apostle John wrote
is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we
ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if
we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we
know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14–15)
it depends on God’s will. Jesus never moved a mountain
and yet we know he had enough faith to do amazing things.
But he always did miracles that God wanted. When Jesus prayed
in Gethsemane, he desperately wanted to avoid the crucifixion,
but his faith could not change the will of God. Jesus accepted
this and showed faith in his willingness to die. Mark
meanings of faith
2:14; Galatians 5:22; Romans 3:3.
faith” as a set of beliefs
6:7; 13:8; 14:22; Galatians 1:23; Ephesians 4:13;
Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 3:9; 4:1,6; 2 Timothy
4:7; Titus 1:13.
certainty about things not seen
12:1–4; 1 Samuel 17:45–47; 2 Chronicles
20:20; Daniel 3:15–18; Matthew 8:5–13;
9:2, 20–22; 15:21–28; 17:20, 21:18–22;
Mark 16:14; Luke 17:12–19; John 20:26–29;
Paul was another man with great faith and gifts of the Holy
Spirit, but he was told that he must put up with a “thorn
in the flesh”. 2 Corinthians 12:7–9
Faith will never allow us to change God’s determined
will, but without human faith many of the events in the Bible
would not have happened. Naaman was reluctant to dip himself
in the dirty river Jordan, but without enough faith to try,
he would have stayed a leper. 2 Kings 5:9–14
Faith is being certain of things we cannot see—and it
cannot be seen itself. No-one can say “here is half
a kilogram of faith”.
God says he does not judge on outward appearances and here
is another proof of this. Faith can only be seen by others
when it affects our behaviour. If others have let their faith
change their way of life, we can copy it:
do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who
through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their
faith. (Hebrews 13:7)
if our faith works in us, others can copy us.
We are to possess faith in “increasing measure”.
The believers in Thessalonica are described as having faith
which was “growing more and more”. How does this
happen? 2 Peter 1:5–8, 2 Thessalonians
Faith grows as we gain confidence in God. This occurs as we
get to know him better through prayer, through reading his
word, and through seeing him in action. Each time our prayers
or we are aware of God’s guiding hand in some event
in our lives, is a time for our faith to increase.
Note that we are not asked to have blind faith—that
is faith without evidence. God gives us:
evidence of his existence; e.g. Romans
evidence of the inspiration of the Scriptures; See
Chapter 2. Reasons to believe the Bible.
and continues to provide evidence of his care for
his children. e.g. Psalm 34:7; Proverbs
We are to use the evidence he provides as a basis for developing
Having faith in the wrong things
Imagine two people climbing a mountain. Both have faith in
their equipment—one has bad equipment and falls to his
death, while the other reaches the summit. Faith of itself
cannot save; it must be faith based on the truth of God.
. . the faith and love that spring from the hope that is
stored up for you in heaven and that you have already
heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come
to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit
growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day
you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its
Having faith is being unshakeable in our hope and certain
of the invisible. Faith helps us to:
be faithful and loyal to God;
never lose our hold on the truth of God; and
know that God’s promises will be fulfilled.
1. If we cannot prove that God exists, should we get involved
with atheists in logical arguments about his existence?
Does an atheist need faith?
2. Have you ever been surprised by the strength of your faith?
3. Have you ever been let down by your weak faith?
4. Could you (or should you) be able to walk on water now?
1. What role does God play in helping us to develop our faith?
Find some references to support your answer.
2. What evidence did David have that God would help him to
3. Jesus says that a person with faith can do anything, yet
his great faith didn’t help him to escape the cross
despite his prayers. Is this a contradiction?
4. Abraham is called the “father of the faithful” (based on Romans 4:11). Think of some examples where Abraham
showed unusual faith.
The genius of discipleship by Dennis Gillett (published
by The Christadelphian, 1984). Chapters 4–6. 14 pages.
The mind of St Paul by William Barclay (published by
William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 9th impression, 1978).
Chapter 12 (16 pages).
2. Reasons to believe the Bible
6. What is God like?
40. God’s promises to Abraham and David
51. The fruit of the Spirit