The Bible talks a lot about faith, and hundreds of books have been written on the subject. The results of this survey might prompt someone to ask: how can I be sure that my faith is genuine? That's a good question, and God gives us a good answer.

Faith is more than mere knowledge, and more than plain belief. For example, I may know that a chair is going to hold me up were I to sit in it, and I may say I believe that it will -- but if refuse to sit down I don't have faith. Faith is putting our belief and knowledge into action.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Faith is not built entirely on logic, reason, and facts. You can't prove it; on the contrary, once something is proven there's no need for faith. Logic, reason, and facts can be important for confirming our faith, and reinforcing what we believe, but in the end they alone will be insufficient if we want to know God. Our limited, human minds are incapable of comprehending God in his full glory, and to bridge the gap between partial knowledge and full certainty requires faith.

How do we know, then, if we've got genuine faith?

I John 5:1-5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This is love for God: to obey his commands. Obedience is hard, because in our sinful state we often don't agree with what God wants us to do. We may not understand the purposes behind his commands or what he's trying to accomplish in our lives and the lives of people around us.

When I think of faith, I always remember an incident with one of my little brothers. He was 4 years old at the time, and wanted to play with a set of shears I was using to cut cardboard. They were sharp and spring-loaded, and far too dangerous for a child to play with, so I told him no. He cried like you wouldn't believe, because he really wanted to play with those shears. I knew it wasn't a good idea, but he simply couldn't understand it. The analogy is obvious: we're the little children, and sometimes God's plan for us is quite different than our own. Do we throw a fit, like spiritual infants, or do we obey what God our father has commanded us?

It's easy to obey when someone tells us to do something we want to do; the real test of love is obeying God when he tells us to do something we don't want to do. Do we have faith that God's way is better than ours? Do we trust him to lead us in the right path? Or do we rebel and do our own thing? God gave us that option when he gave us free will, but when we disobey God we're basically saying that we know better than he does what's good for our lives, and we tell him to get lost.

James 2:14-18 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Such faith isn't faith at all -- it's just words. Real faith is an action (just like real love, incidentally). Faith isn't something you feel, faith is something you do.

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