What Is Faith and Where Does It Come From?

April 13, 2014

What exactly is faith? Is it positive thinking? Is it determining to believe something even in the face of difficulties? Do some people just have an innate ability to believe?

A definition of faith

Hebrews 11:1 tells us what faith is:

“Now faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Note 1 in the New Testament Recovery Version on this verse helps us understand more fully what this means:

“Faith is the substantiation of things hoped for. Hence, it is the assurance, the confidence, the confirmation, the reality, the essence, the supporting ground, of things hoped for, the foundation that supports the things hoped for. Faith is also the conviction of things not seen. It convinces us of what we do not see. Hence, it is the evidence, the proof, of things not seen.”

By reading this, we can see that faith is truly a wonderful thing. But simply knowing the definition of faith isn’t enough. Related to our experience of faith, we have to ask these questions:

  • Where does faith come from?
  • How do we get faith?
  • How can we be strengthened in our faith?

Where does faith come from?

The first thing we must understand is that faith is not of us. None of us is born with a natural ability to believe. Not one person is better at believing than another. If we look to ourselves for faith, we’ll be discouraged. This is because we are not the source of faith. We simply can’t muster up faith in ourselves. These three verses in the Bible show us the true source of faith:

“To those who have been allotted faith equally precious as ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”—2 Peter 1:1

Faith comes from God. God allots, or gives, faith to us.

“The life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God.”—Galatians 2:20

Our faith is not only in Christ, but also of Christ. The source of our faith is the Son of God! We believe in the Lord Jesus not by our own faith, but by His faith.

“Looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.”—Hebrews 12:2

Jesus is the Author, the Originator, of our faith. He is also the Perfecter, the Completer, of our faith. As the Author of our faith, Jesus is the origin of our faith. As the Perfecter of our faith, Jesus is the finisher and completer of our faith. He, not we, will finish what He first authored in us.

From the above three verses, we see clearly that we are not the source of faith. Faith is something given to us by God; faith is the faith of the Son of God; and Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of faith.

How then did this faith become our faith in the first place? This leads us to the next question.

How do we get faith?

Romans 10:17 tells us simply and clearly how we obtain faith:

“So faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

How did we first believe in Jesus Christ? It was through our hearing of the word of Christ. Someone told us about the dear Person of Jesus Christ and all He did for us in His death and resurrection. As we listened, the preciousness of Jesus was infused into us, and we began to appreciate Him. While the gospel was being spoken to us, maybe even more than one time, our appreciation of Christ increased, until eventually, a spontaneous reaction took place in us—we believed in Him and wanted Him. Previously we may never have thought much about Jesus Christ or even believed He was real, but out of our hearing the word of Christ, faith came to us.

We can illustrate this way. Let’s say you don’t know anything about diamonds. And at first glance, a diamond looks like a common piece of glass to you. But a jeweler explains to you how the diamond was formed over thousands of years, and how it underwent tremendous pressure to be produced. As you look closer, he tells you the different characteristics of the diamond to help you understand how valuable it is. He shows you how the facets on a diamond reveal its brilliant beauty in the light. The more you listen to him and look at the diamond, the more you appreciate it and want to possess it.

By recalling our own experience of salvation, we can realize how our hearing the word concerning Christ caused us to really see Him and to realize His precious worth. We began to treasure the Lord Jesus, appreciating His Person and all He did for us. Inexplicably, we found we wanted Him. We even began to love Him. Without trying to, we began to have faith in the Him. This faith is just the Christ who was preached into us becoming our capacity to believe through our appreciation of Him.

So the source of our faith is not ourselves, but the Lord. And in our experience of faith, faith came through our hearing the gospel. It didn’t come by our striving to believe or by telling ourselves to think positively. The word of Christ spoken into us imparted faith into us. This is how we initially obtained the precious faith from God.

The next question is, once we’ve received this faith from God, how can we be strengthened in our faith? Don’t miss our follow-up post on learning the secret to a life of faith!



  • Richard Tingley says:

    I really enjoy these special notes, in the recovery Bible.

    It helps a lot in Bible study. It brings a lot to the table in the way of enlightenment.



  • This is an awesome explanation.

  • Wilbert Furqan says:

    :;)Peace! GOD is able, good, love!!! Amen

  • James Manuel says:

    Great explanation! I thought all along that faith originates from us……now I know that faith comes from, and ends with, Jesus. Thanks for the very clear explanation! Godspeed.

  • I appreciate a word on faith from a conference this winter on “Knowing and Experiencing the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob to become the Israel of God, the church in the Triune God”. “Abraham’s faith did not originate with himself (he was not the giant of faith that many suppose); rather his believing in God was a reaction to the God of glory appearing to him and to the transfusing and infusing of God’s element into his being.” Acts 7:2 (Recovery version bible, footnote 2)

  • Dahn Carey says:

    I’m so very thankful that we experience “the substance” and the evidence of things not seen. Because we’ve experienced the Love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and the forgiveness of our sins, we have no choice but to submit to abiding by The Holy Spirit. Non believers don’t seem to realize that we have lost our choice when it comes to hot button social issues. God said it in His Word and we receive it as His born again family. We can’t just decide that it would be really nice of us if we believed homosexuality is normal and should be embraced. On the contrary, we realize since “The Family” is God’s idea, we don’t get to make up whatever we feel like or promote behaviors and practices we know not to be healthy for the masterpiece (Man Kind) that God created. God’s Love reaches all that does not mean all can do whatever they feel is right in their own eyes. As Believers who have a foretaste of God’s Life, Forgiveness and Grace…we receive His wisdom on the subject alone.

  • Yohanes Ashenafi says:

    And having the 1same 2aspirit of bfaith according to that which is written, c”I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak,

    “So faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

    Hallelujah! Jesus is Lord!

  • Harry McComish says:

    Thank you for this explication. It helps.

  • Amen

  • I have heard the verse Romans 10:17 regarding faith coming from our hearing and hearing from the word of God at least hundreds of times over the past 40 years but for some reason I never saw that until now. Thank you so much for that sharing. It will help with when I speak to others about the Lord.

  • Francis J. Connelly (frank) says:

    Truly a wonderful truth to be appreciated.
    My faith, as weak and insignificant as it is, nevertheless grows with every
    word of holy Scripture that I experience.
    Thank you Jesus. Please continue to help my faith grow. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for your sacrifice.

  • Ethel Madison says:

    Thank God for this lesson i learn a lot from it

  • Amen! That is the way I was saved or regenerated and that is the way to grow in the Lord as I continue on this journey with Him.

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