To this point in Paul’s letter to the Roman Church, Paul has stressed faith as the way -- the only way -- to salvation. To counter any arguments from Jewish Christians in the congregation, Paul used the example of Abraham as one who was made right with God -- justified -- by faith.
In our study of this life changing book we’d better stop here and examine the word and the concept of faith. In Hebrew, faith, or maw haw, means to question or hesitate. Certainly this is not the faith of Abraham. While he did have many questions and at from time-to-time wondered when the God’s promise would happen, I don’t think we can say that he hesitated in his faith in God. Certainly he did hesitate when God called him out of Ur, the land of his father, to found a new nation. Scripture records that Abram, as he was known then, picked up everything he had, sheep, cattle, tents, a nephew, and his wife Sari, and began a trek to a land unknown to him. What a great act of the word we are defining -- faith -- this was.
Let’s look at the word “faith” as Paul uses it in the Greek language, a language which Paul used and the language in which the epistle to the Roman church was written. In Greek, faith is pis tis and means a conviction in the truthfulness of God.
This is the kind of faith Paul’s Abraham had. A conviction in the truthfulness of God. This faith - this conviction - is what God recognized when he, “credited his faith to him as righteousness.”
Let’s continue to examine the word faith. In the newspaper business reporters are trained to ask a number of questions. Among them are, “Who, what, why, when, where, and how.” If we apply the skills of a newspaper reporter to the question of faith what will we find? If we ask the question, “Who?” who will we find? Who has faith? Oddly enough, the answer to that question may very well be, “Everyone has faith.”
Everyone has faith in something. Even a lack of faith denotes a kind of faith. We hear much said of faith. Some people have “little faith,” and we feel sorry for them. Some folks have “a desperate faith,” and we pray for them. Some people have a “different faith,” and we fear them. Some people have “strong faith,” and we admire them. Perhaps one of the best attempts to define faith, what it is and who has it, comes from The Communicator’s Commentary, written by Dr. Stuart Briscoe. He writes, “The object of faith is what really matters, more than anything else. Some people who had strong faith in thin ice never lived to tell the tale but died by faith. Others who had weak faith in thick ice were as safe as if they stood on concrete.” Note Brisco’s response. He writes, “The object of faith is what really matters, more than anything else.” He is telling us that one of the answers to the “Who.” question is God.
In whom do we have faith? It is the Almighty God, the God of Heaven and Earth. The God who spoke the universe and this earth into being. Whether we have faith is not the question. The question really should be, “In whom do have faith?”