The elementary principles are foundations; and nothing is more foundational to Christianity than faith toward God. Of the six elementary principles, faith toward God is probably the most commonly taught. Consequently, you may be tempted to take a pass on this one.

So, before you decide to do that, let me suggest that foundation inspections are always good. The worse thing that can happen is you find out you have at least one principle covered. On the other hand, there may be something here that connects a couple of dots for you. Or, you may find a new way to explain this principle to those you are discipling. That is my hope and prayer.

The way the writer of Hebrews phrased this principle is interesting to me. Why not “faith in God”? Make no mistake about it, the Holy Spirit inspired the use of the word “toward”. I suspect this will be key to our gaining a full understanding of the principle. Before we go there, let’s make sure we understand the meaning of “faith”.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

This is one of the richest verses in all of Scripture – the definition of faith. In order to understand it fully, we must consider the words God chose to define and describe faith. As we do so, let’s remember that this principle is elementary. It is easy to understand; it is easy to consume.

Faith (Pistis): Conviction of the truth of anything, belief. Outline of Biblical Usage;

Substance (hypostasis): A setting or placing under, thing put under, substructure, foundation; that which has foundation, is firm; that which has actual existence, a substance, a real being; the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing; the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution, confidence, firm trust, assurance. Outline of Biblical Usage;

Things hoped for (elpizō): To hope; in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence; hopefully to trust in. Outline of Biblical Usage;

Evidence (elegchos): A proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested; conviction. Outline of Biblical Usage;

Putting it all together, faith is the conviction of truth, founded on the substantial quality and nature of the LORD, resulting in a steadfastness of mind, courage and assurance; to hope and wait for salvation with joy and full confidence. As such, it is the proof and test of things we cannot see.

Admittedly, this is quite an involved definition. It has to be! Even in its most elementary form, faith is more to us than a word; more than the Christian clichés we wrap around it. When we think of faith – and use it to describe something we “have” – we should always associate it with conviction, steadfastness, courage, and proof. We should recognize that it includes waiting with joy for the things we cannot see. Our faith should be alive, to test us – on a very regular basis.

And so, let me ask you: Do you have the faith described here? If you are like me, you are still in process. Yes, having faith is a process. It is something developed in us through exercise; something we learn to apply more continuously and to greater affect as we “grow in our faith”.

For me, knowing I am in process is a relief and an encouragement. In essence, all who are followers of Jesus Christ are growing in their faith toward God. The direction we are growing is important. This will be the subject of Part 2.

Until then, God bless you with the steadfast faith of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Humbly yours and forever His,