Faith simply means "belief" and though it is mostly used in connection with religion, it is properly used for other beliefs unrelated to religion. One could say, "I believe that the sun will come up tomorrow." All of us unconsciously exercise faith every day because a certain amount of faith or presumption is necessary to carry on human activities.
The Bible acknowledges this fact by a verse found in Romans 12:3, "God has dealt to every man a measure of faith." The significance of faith is that what we believe or do not believe is incredibly powerful and affects actions that determine both our short term and long term future. There is a danger in faith in that it can be erroneous or negative. The Bible calls negative faith "unbelief." Economic experts say that pessimism, skepticism, and negative attitudes are important factors in the present economic crisis.
Faith has a much narrower meaning in the New Testament and though the word is often used standing alone two important things are always implied. First, that God, described in the Bible, is the only true and Almighty God, and second, that what He has said and promised in the context of Scripture are true and trustworthy. Correct interpretation of Scripture depends on awareness of these implications. Consider the verse in Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." It would be confusing to suppose this to mean that any or all kinds of faith pleases God but if we apply the implication associated with faith as used in the Bible, we have a clear and correct meaning.
Throughout the rich history of our country, we have faced dangerous and difficult challenges which threatened our existence on more than one occasion. In almost every case great national leaders rose up to call the nation to faith and prayer in times of crisis. Quite often a surprising and unusual turn of event brought a solution to situations that seemed beyond remedy. The silence of our leaders in calling our nation to faith and prayer in the present world crises is therefore troubling. Particularly because the majority of Americans are, at the least, professing Christians. To underestimate the power of a multitude of honorable people united by faith in the goodness and mercy of God would be a tragic missed opportunity to show other nations of the world the true reason for America's greatness. What's more, there is a promise of God well-known to many Christians that forms a foundation for the exercise of national faith. It is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
n Gene Holman is pastor of Living Word Fellowship and is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers' Association.