Faith is a central theme throughout the Bible. Scripture offers many examples of faithful men and women who trusted in God even when facing enormous challenges. Their stories inspire us to deepen our own faith and rely on God in every circumstance. In this post, we’ll explore some of the most pivotal Bible stories about faith and what they teach us.
The Bible makes it clear that faith pleases God. As Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Faith is not simply believing God exists, but trusting in His promises and acting accordingly.
Faith manifests itself in obedience as we step out to follow God’s leading. While we cannot see Him, we believe He is guiding us. Although we cannot be certain of all the outcomes, we trust Him to be faithful.
Here are some key takeaways about faith from the stories we’ll explore:
- Faith requires trusting God even when His commands seem illogical or dangerous
- God often uses our faith to accomplish the miraculous
- Stepping out in faith demonstrates our reliance on God rather than ourselves
- Faith involves believing God will fulfill His promises despite circumstances to the contrary
- God rewards those who earnestly seek Him in faith
- Our faith can be strengthened when tested if we persevere in believing God
Now let’s examine some pivotal stories in the Bible that exemplify profound faith.
- Abraham's Astounding Faith
- Noah Perseveres in Faith
- Rahab Trusts the True God
- David Defeats Goliath
- Peter Steps Out of the Boat
- Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego Face the Furnace
- Joshua marches around Jericho
- Job Perseveres in Suffering
- Esther Risks Her Life
- Jesus Commends the Centurion's Great Faith
Abraham’s Astounding Faith
One of the most dramatic demonstrations of faith comes from the life of Abraham in Genesis 12-25. God promised to make Abraham into a great nation, bless him abundantly, make his name great, and make him a blessing to all the families of the earth. Abraham believed God and obeyed His call to leave behind everything familiar and embark on a journey to the land of Canaan.
Hebrews 11:8 (NKJV) highlights Abraham’s faith: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Abraham trusted completely in God’s guidance and provision. He staked his life on God’s promise despite not knowing all the details of how it would unfold.
God later promised Abraham a son in his old age. Though Abraham and Sarah initially laughed in disbelief, God miraculously allowed them to conceive. According to Romans 4:20-21 (NKJV), Abraham did not waver in trusting God’s promise: “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
Abraham’s complete faith in God’s faithfulness allowed God to accomplish the incredible through this elderly couple. His story shows us that faith means clinging to God’s promises despite human limitations. When we believe God can do the impossible, He demonstrates His might and strength.
Noah Perseveres in Faith
Genesis 6-9 records the famous story of Noah at the time of the global flood. Noah stood out as the only righteous man on earth (Genesis 6:9). Despite rampant human evil, Noah found favor with God and trusted in His warnings about the coming judgment.
By faith, Noah responded to God’s command to build a massive ark designed to preserve his family and two of every creature during the devastating flood. Imagine the ridicule and skepticism Noah likely endured from his contemporaries as he established this boat-building project nowhere near water. Yet Noah persevered in obedience because of his faith in God’s word.
Hebrews 11:7 (NKJV) says, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Noah believed God’s promises despite no tangible evidence yet of the coming flood. His remarkable faith led to salvation.
Rahab Trusts the True God
Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute living within the walls of Jericho, is an unlikely example of great faith. Yet she recognized that the God of Israel was the one true God. She believed His promises concerning Jericho’s impending destruction. And she acted on that faith to protect the Israelite spies, knowing it could mean danger for herself.
Joshua 2 records the story of Rahab hiding the spies and lying to the messengers of the king about the spies’ whereabouts. “I know that the Lord has given you the land,” Rahab tells the spies in verse 9 (NKJV), “for the terror of you has fallen on us, and all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.”
Rahab expresses her faith that God will give Israel victory and destroy Jericho as He said. She then asks for protection for herself and her family. The spies agree and advise Rahab to gather her family into her house and display a scarlet cord from the window. This will identify her house as one to spare during the coming destruction.
Rahab’s faith in God’s word saves her life even as the rest of her city perishes. Hebrews 11:31 (NKJV) commends her: “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.” Rahab demonstrates that faith transcends background, nationality, or status. It simply requires trusting in God.
David Defeats Goliath
1 Samuel 17 recounts the famous story of David and Goliath. The Philistine giant Goliath taunted the Israelite army and threatened them with destruction. Though just a youth and inexperienced in battle, David believed God would enable him to defeat Goliath. He boldly declared, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand” (1 Samuel 17:46, NKJV).
David did not trust in his own strength and skill. When King Saul offered his armor, David declined it. Instead, David went with his simple sling and stones, saying, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45, NKJV). His faith rested completely on the Lord as his deliverer.
Hebrews 11:32-34 (NKJV) praises David and other heroes who “through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire…” Despite David’s youth and Goliath’s size, he believed God’s power could prevail. His faith conquered.
Peter Steps Out of the Boat
The apostle Peter is known for his impetuousness. But this same lack of reservation enabled him to get out of the boat and walk on the water when Jesus beckoned him. In Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus came walking to the disciples on the water while they struggled against stormy seas in their boat.
When Peter realizes it is Jesus, he asks to join Him on the water. Jesus tells Peter, “Come.” Displaying incredible faith, Peter climbs out of the boat and begins walking on the water himself, fixing his eyes on Jesus. But when Peter notices the strong wind, his faith wavers. He begins to sink and cries out for Jesus to save him.
This episode shows that faith requires focus. When Peter fixed his gaze on Christ, he could achieve the miraculous and walk on water. But when he became distracted by his surroundings, his faith faltered. Still, Jesus commended Peter for desiring to join Him, saying in Matthew 14:31 (NKJV), “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Even imperfect faith contains gems of belief.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego Face the Furnace
Daniel 3 tells the riveting story of three young Jewish men in Babylonian captivity–Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. When King Nebuchadnezzar constructs a golden idol and demands all worship it, these three courageously refuse, declaring their faith in the one true God.
The king threatens to throw them into a blazing furnace if they will not comply. Their response models rock-solid faith: “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods…” (Daniel 3:17-18, NKJV).
Though threatened with death, they trust God has power to save them. Yet even if God chooses not to rescue them, they affirm their faith and allegiance to Him over the king. Of course, God dramatically delivers them, allowing them to walk safely out of the flames. Their bold faith preserves them from harm, testifying to God’s glory.
Joshua marches around Jericho
God commanded Joshua to have the Israelites march around the heavily fortified city of Jericho once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. Then they were to shout and the walls of Jericho would fall down, allowing the Israelites to charge and capture the city. This seemed a strange and futile tactic against such a mighty stronghold, but Joshua obeyed in faith.
Joshua 6 describes how Israel followed God’s instructions precisely, marching around the city as God prescribed. On the seventh day, the priests blew the trumpets, the people shouted with a great shout, and the walls collapsed. The city was taken, just as God promised.
Joshua demonstrated tremendous faith in God’s plan despite its seeming folly. The walls must have appeared as solid as ever even after six days of silent marching. Yet Joshua believed God would do the miraculous if they obeyed His word in faith. Hebrews 11:30 (NKJV) affirms, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.”
Job Perseveres in Suffering
The Old Testament book of Job chronicles an excruciating test of faith. God allowed Satan to inflict tremendous suffering on Job, taking away his health, wealth, and even his children. Yet despite his intense grief, Job refuses to curse God. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him,” Job proclaims in 13:15 (NKJV).
Job wrestles to reconcile God’s goodness with his painful circumstances. At times he expresses doubt and despair. But ultimately he concludes, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25, NKJV). Job fixes his faith on God’s power, wisdom, and sovereignty. He chooses to trust in the midst of agonizing trials.
James 5:11 (NKJV) upholds Job as an example of persevering faith: “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord.” God eventually restores Job, demonstrating He understood Job’s struggles and remained faithful. Job’s story inspires us to cling to faith when understanding fails.
Esther Risks Her Life
Queen Esther faces a crisis that threatens the destruction of her people in the book of Esther. Haman, an official of Persia, manipulates King Ahasuerus into decreeing the annihilation of the Jews. When her cousin Mordecai urges Esther to intervene, she fears approaching the king unsummoned could mean death.
Yet Esther determines that if help will come, it must come through her. She requests prayer and fasting from the Jews, then declares, “…if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16, NKJV). She resolves to enter the king’s presence in faith, trusting her life to God. Esther finds favor, exposes Haman’s plot, and the king permits the Jews to defend themselves. Her courageous faith saves her people.
Jesus Commends the Centurion’s Great Faith
In the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly emphasizes the importance of faith. One example comes from His encounter with a Roman centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. The centurion approaches Jesus about healing his paralyzed servant. When Jesus offers to come to his home, the centurion insists Jesus can simply command healing from afar.
Jesus marvels at this man’s faith, saying “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Matthew 8:10, NKJV). The centurion understands Jesus’ authority and believes His word alone carries power. Jesus praises his unwavering faith and grants the requested healing. This account shows that genuine faith rests on recognizing who Jesus is.
The above stories remind us that faith pleases God and allows Him to move through our lives. While faith manifests itself in different forms, it always entails trusting God and acting on that trust. We can have confidence that God will fulfill His promises and finish the work He began in us as we walk by faith.
The heroes celebrated in Hebrews 11 encourage us to live by faith: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV). May the examples of their faithfulness spur us onward.