Faith is a word that gets used a lot in the world today. Faith has become a term that describes self-empowerment more than anything else. When people say that they "believe," the object of faith is more frequently becoming "self" and the expectation of results that one's "self" can produce. This is not how the Bible defines faith. In fact, one could make the simply argument that the Bible's definition and illustrations of faith are the complete opposite.
The Bible teaches that faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). Yet the Bible also teaches that one's hope should be in God through the object of Jesus Christ. The Bible does not define faith as the ability one demonstrates to accomplish difficult tasks. The Bible teaches that faith is a series of decisions that one makes that reflects one's trust in the Living God. For example, in Genesis 12:4-9 the Bible documents the series of actions that Abram executed after he had received the promises of God's grace. The Bible shows that as God promised Abram a land inheritance, that he would be a great nation, and that Messiah would be one of his descendants, Abram made efforts to obey God. God instructed Abram that in order to receive the benefits of the promises He made, Abram would have to leave his familiar surroundings and live as a foreigner in a new land that God would reveal later. Thus, Genesis 12:4-9 shows that Abram packed up his wife, his nephew Lot, his servants and his things and set out for the land of Canaan. God could have blessed Abram in the land that he was already living in, but God, wanting to show His power and care, gave Abram a set of instructions that would cause Abram to be dependent of God.
Genesis 12:4-9 explains that as Abram ventured out into new territory, he did so in a manner that might have been uncertain in terms of his understanding of where he was to go, but that he trusted in the Lord. The Bible shows that as Abram entered into the land of Canaan, the Lord met with Abram in Shechem. Shechem was in the very northern part of Israel, south of the Sea of Galilee, and in the region of Samaria. As Abram entered into the region that God promised would be his, the Bible explains that God appeared to Abram to confirm he was on the right track. When Abram first set out on his journey, the Lord was somewhat vague in His instructions in terms of specific direction. The Lord did not give Abram a city to head towards or a region to seek out. God simply told Abram that He would show Abram the place when he got there. Hence, Abram and to seek the Lord in order to obey the Lord. Thankfully, the Bible shows that when one does seek the Lord in obedience, He will appear to His children along the way to encourage and confirm one's faith.
As the Lord appeared to Abram in Shechem, the Bible states that God revealed more details regarding the promise that He had made to Abram. God pointed out the land that would be Abram's land. Genesis 12:4-9 teaches that God told Abram that the land of Canaan would be the possession of Abram. The land of Canaan would be the land of Abram's offspring. Though God promised Abram a land inheritance, God was specific to show that Abram would receive that inheritance through his offspring. Abram would not possess that land himself. Nevertheless, Abram didn't care. Abram was blessed by God's provision, even to his offspring (that he did not yet have) and rejoiced in worship of God as God spoke these incredible promises to him. The Bible shows that Abram sought to exalt the name of the Lord and so built an altar and dedicated it to God. As Abram trusted in God, and made a decision to do something that might have seemed irrational to the world, and follow God in a strange land, God confirmed Abram's faith, and Abram worshiped God as a result. It was faith that allowed Abram the opportunity to experience the realness of the Living God!
The scriptures go on to explain that Abram began to travel farther south towards Egypt and along the way built another altar in Bethel. As the Lord confirmed His promise to Abram, and Abram traveled through the land that was promised and realized the extent of God's gracious provision, Abram responded to the promises of God in worship. Abram was compelled to exalt the name of God as he was learning about who God was. However, one must take notice that the lesson Abram was learning, and the basis of his relationship with God was under the foundation of trust in God. As Abram heard the Word of God, he trusted it to be true and began to form his life around what God's Word had proclaimed. Abram made decision that reflected his trust in God, and not decisions based on his fleshly desires. Abram's life became more difficult and uncertain as a result, but that difficulty did not hinder Abram's willingness to do as God said. As a result, God was willing and able to reveal Himself to Abram to show that His promises are golden and guaranteed. The revelation of the Living God in Abram's life gave Abram the confidence to continue in his journey, deeper into foreign territory. As Abram began to discover who God was, he became more confident in the promises that God made so that he was willing to display greater faith.
The Bible teaches that is is impossible to please God without faith. As the Bible reveals this illustration of Abram to show what real faith is, it is clear that one cannot please God unless one hears the Word of God, responds to the Word of God in obedience, and trusts in God's provision in one's attempts to do as God commanded. One will likely be put in a position of vulnerability, but only because such a condition causes one to be dependent on the Living God. It is in this state of absolute dependency that one is able to meet God, see God, and be compelled to genuinely worship God!