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What is faith, really?

Q: Please explain to me what Faith really is aside from man's or Bible definition. It is used in so many different contexts which are confusing...

A:  This is definitely of those questions that belong under "Life's Toughest..."

Instead of giving you any Bible, or other definition (which you are probably already familiar with...) I'll pose a question From The Urantia Book:

"Is faith—the supreme assertion of human thought—desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe." (3:5.9)

Put another way, this is saying that the human mind is fully capable of believing more than it can know factually. This passage characterizes faith as a "troublesome predicament..." However, since our minds do have this capability, it seems logical to assume that there really IS something outside the realm of the sensory experience that has value, and that is worth believing in, all appearances to the contrary.

Why is faith a troublesome predicament? For one, I guess I'd have to say that one who possesses faith is in a position where they can be challenged by those who do not possess it. To one who has no faith, a faith-filled person may seem naive at best, or hopelessly deluded at worst. And yet, a person who does possess faith, especially religious or spiritual faith, maintains it for a reason.

Faith usually begins as "belief." We believe that there is a God, for example. After putting this belief to the test again and again, we may then, through experience, gain enough personal evidence that this belief is worthy of elevation to actual faith. This faith, though, is ours alone, because the experience is ours alone, which is why faith cannot necessarily be transmitted from one to another. Here are some differences between belief and faith. From The Urantia Book:

"Belief is always limiting and binding; faith is expanding and releasing. Belief fixates, faith liberates. But living religious faith is more than the association of noble beliefs; it is more than an exalted system of philosophy; it is a living experience concerned with spiritual meanings, divine ideals, and supreme values; it is God-knowing and man-serving. Beliefs may become group possessions, but faith must be personal. Theologic beliefs can be suggested to a group, but faith can rise up only in the heart of the individual religionist". (101:8.1)

Another reason it can be a troublesome predicament is that there is always the possibility of doubt. The opposite of faith is doubt. Doubt can be tempting, while faith can be challenging...Jesus taught:

"There is but one struggle for those who enter the kingdom, and that is to fight the good fight of faith. The believer has only one battle, and that is against doubt--unbelief."(159:3.8)

But unlike doubt, faith will be rewarded by "real and personal experience." To understand faith, we might want to ask: What are the rewards of faith? Why should we cultivate faith?

One of the most amazing earmarks of religious living is that dynamic and sublime peace, that peace which passes all human understanding, that cosmic poise which betokens the absence of all doubt and turmoil. Such levels of spiritual stability are immune to disappointment. Such religionists are like the Apostle Paul, who said: 'I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else shall be able to separate us from the love of God.' " (100:6.6)

Faith is the great adventure of the spiritual life...

"...that most thrilling and inspiring of all possible human experiences: the personal quest for truth, the exhilaration of facing the perils of intellectual discovery, the determination to explore the realities of personal religious experience, the supreme satisfaction of experiencing the personal triumph of the actual realization of the victory of spiritual faith over intellectual doubt as it is honestly won in the supreme adventure of all human existence—man seeking God, for himself and as himself, and finding him." (155:5.10)

I want to add these few Urantia Book references as well, which may be helpful to you:

"...faith is an effective armor against sin and iniquity. It is true: 'He who is born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one touches him not.' "

"Faith is a living attribute of genuine personal religious experience.""

...faith is always triumphant over doubting, for faith is both positive and living."

"Faith is man’s true wealth; it is the endowment of virtue and glory."

"Faith is the inspiration of the spiritized creative imagination."

"Faith is to religion what sails are to a ship; it is an addition of power, not an added burden of life."

And you can find more like this by using our convenient search feature which is found on the top right corner of this, and every page on our site, and plugging in the words "faith is" in the box marked "Search The Urantia Book only..."

To understand more about faith, we can have no better example than Jesus. Even though Jesus was a divine being, he was also a human being like us, and so, we can follow his progress in the faith adventure and aspire to the kind of faith experience that he enjoyed through reading and seriously adopting his manner of life in this regard. Please see " The Faith of Jesus "

Thanks again for writing to us with this important question. I hope that my reply has been helpful to you today. Feel free to write back at any time! And in the meantime, if you have not already done so, I invite you to subscribe to our free " Quote of the Day " service so that you can receive an inspiring passage from The Urantia Book on a daily basis to help you live your highest spiritual life."

:: Date published:
:: Author: Staff