First we start with faith’s source, which is God:
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God
Faith comes as a the result of knowing that God has spoken to you. In the context of Romans 9-10, God speaks the good news of the gospel through a preacher, and the hearer is convicted of sin because he recognizes the truth of what is said and connects it with God. He is so convinced of its source that the person repents and changes as though the inner speaker was actually God. The person has a confidence that God has spoken.
Faith is the feeling of confidence. It is a very real sensation:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
“faith is the substance:” Faith is real. It is a motivating feeling, a strong confidence; you can know that you have it.
“of things hoped for:” When God really imparts a promise to you, you will know it; it will be clear enough for you to act upon it or wait for it.
“the evidence of things not seen:” God makes a promise and what is left behind is the feeling of confidence or urgency. This confidence is the “evidence” that God has indeed spoken. Without this evidence, one merely has a belief in something, and it does not motivate one to extraordinary actions.
Noah knew that God had spoken to him to build an ark, so he devoted the next 100 years of life to do so. Moses was so confident that God was speaking to him out of the burning bush that he argued with God and finally gave in and obeyed. In all the examples of Hebrews 11, we see men and women acting on the voice.
Thus, biblical faith is accompanied by works:
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Without the sense that God has spoken and one must act, it is mere human belief, of human ideas. It is a pseudo faith; it may even be a motivational belief, or as in Think and Grow Rich, a “burning desire” that sees you through to the end of a task. But if the burning desire is not sensed as coming from God, then it is a belief, not biblical faith. It is fallen man’s best approximation of faith. It is the faith of a spiritually dead person.
Thus, biblical faith proves that a person is spiritually alive:
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.
Without seeking God for His voice when studying the words of God, one is merely studying. One may even believe the words are true, but if God is not speaking, then no biblical faith is present to make a difference. So then we must “diligently seek Him,” not just seek some Bible information. Biblical faith is a response to God and what He says. It is transformational, not only informational. It pleases Him because it indicates that we were seeking Him and had a heart that was responsive; faith in God indicates a genuine relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit imparts the words of God:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
The Spirit speaks to the unbeliever through the gospel (John 16:8), then speaks to the believer. God continues to speak in this manner today to the Gentiles, as we learn from the last recorded words of Paul: “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles and they will hear it!” (Acts 28:28). They will “hear.” Jesus speaks of “having ears to hear;” He wants the voice of God heard in such a way that faith is generated and strong confidence is held that moves the hearer to new directions he would never conceive of on his own, proving that he is born again (John 3:7-8).