While no characteristic that God desires for us is unimportant, one could make a strong case that faith is among the most important. It is fundamental, foundational, and central. Jesus placed it among the “weightier” matters of the law (Matt. 23:23). Its usage in the New Testament bears witness to its preeminence. It sometimes describes the whole of New Testament doctrine (Jude 3; Acts 6:7; 1 Tim. 4:1). It is that which begins and undergirds all of gospel obedience (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 11:6; Acts 16:30-34), and it is at the heart of Christian living (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:7).
The writer of Hebrews, in his tremendous chapter on faith (chapter 11), reveals no less than 14 characteristics of faith. Consider:
- It assures us of our future hope (1).
- It furnishes us with firm convictions regarding things we do not yet see (1).
- It enhances one’s reputation, and rightly so (2, 4, 5, 39).
- It goes hand-in-hand with rational thought (3).
- It expresses itself in action (4-34).
- It is required for one who would approach and please God (6).
- It condemns ungodliness (7, 38).
- It serves as the foundation of justification (7).
- It takes God at his word, regardless of the consequences (8-9, 17, 24-27, 35-38).
- It assesses life from an eternal perspective (10, 13-16, 26).
- It accepts God’s word, regardless of how unbelievable it might seem (11-12).
- It looks beyond this life to the next (10, 13, 16).
- It conquers fear (23, 27).
- It connects the Christian to saints of the past (39-40).
With so much to gain by having it, and so much to lose without it, our daily prayer should be, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).