The Pursuit of Faith

Paul told Timothy to “pursue faith” but how is that possible?

Gordon Gower preaching in the wilderness

I can understand pursuing righteousness and godliness, but how do we pursue faith, Paul’s third virtue in 1 Timothy 6:11? Long ago, Secundus was asked, “What is faith?” He answered, “a marvelous certainty about something otherwise unknown.” [1] The Hebrew writer says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

“The assurance of things hoped for ….” The lexicon says the word “assurance” (hypostasis, ὑπόστασις) means “the essential or basic structure/nature of an entity, substantial nature, essence, actual being, reality” [2] So faith is the basis of hope. It might also be translated as “hope realized” (see HCSB “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for.” Cf. NLT) But how do we obtain that certainty? Gideon asked for a sign. Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said” (Judges 6:36 – 37). Although the Lord accepted Gideon’s challenge, that hardly seems like an act of faith.

Faith and belief translate the same Greek word (pisteuo, πιστεύω). The father of a demon-possessed boy cried, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Perfect faith is a rare gem! “Doubting” Thomas demanded to touch the resurrected Lord (John 20:25). Nathanael refused to believe Philip’s conclusion that Jesus was the promised one (John 1:46) until Nathanael invited him to come to see for himself.

The key to the pursuit of faith is to see faith in action. I mean that the way to pursue faith is to act on that belief. The Hebrew writer concludes, “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight” (Hebrews 11:32 – 34). Notice the key phrase: “who through faith.” Just ask Peter. Sometimes you gotta get out of the boat.

How can we pursue faith today? Think of something that is worrying you. Write it down. Now lay it before the Lord. Give it to God and wait. Our Lord is mighty and full of surprises!

Remember: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

  [1] Fragmenta Philosophorum Graecorum—List 5, I 516 cited in Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.). University of Chicago Press.

[2] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000).

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