“Now faith is the assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:1-6).
Well, this is faith. And yet, it’s not as exact and easy to explain as this may be. There is so much to genuine faith that we must dive deep into the words of Scripture to find out:
- What is faith
- What faith is not
- How does faith save you
- What does faith do
These are just a few of the questions and topics that I’d like to write about in this article. So what is faith?
As you can see from one of the most popular passages in the Bible, faith is more than just a belief. We see this elsewhere when James says that, “even the demons believe – and shudder” (James 2:19). So we can understand that faith isn’t just belief in facts or belief that something is technically real. Faith is more personal than that and affects us at the core. Bob Jennings, a pastor and theologian, once said that faith is the uttermost despair of your ability to save yourself and a trusting in Christ to do it. Jeff Purswell says that faith is, “trust or dependence on God based on the fact that we take Him at His word and believe what He has said.” And he says about saving faith that it is “trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God.” I agree with this, but then I also believe it’s so much more. There’s a better way to say it, but not necessarily in one sentence.
Faith is a rocking of the core of a person. I believe, along with John Piper, that faith is caused by regeneration, but they both happen simultaneously; like the relationship between a fire and light. Fire comes first, but they both happen at the same time. Light doesn’t cause fire, but fire causes light. So it is with regeneration and faith. The regenerating work of the Holy Spirit must first come in and change the nature of a person before that person can truly believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. How can a sinner believe in somebody He hates (Romans 3:9-11)?
Faith is also self-despairing look to Christ. It is a giving up on your own goodness and sinfulness and looking unto Christ as your only hope. He is all we need. He is all we have. Faith would jump into the abyss of Hell only to hope that Christ catches him. Christ is the only One who can catch him.
Faith acts. Faith produces the fruits of the Spirit in a person and these fruits push a person to act. Your love for your neighbor pushed you to act and share the Gospel. So faith must produce action in somebody. Faith also produces godliness.
What Faith Is Not
Faith is not the all in all. Christ is. Faith is just the conduit that God has blessed to save people. When you look to Christ, you’re not looking at your faith, you’re looking at Christ. This is where I, and so many others, can mess up form time to time. Don’t look at your repentance and faith as trying to make them perfect; look to Christ and your faith will grow. Stop focusing on believing better. Just look at the One you believe in.
How Does Faith Save You?
As we mentioned before, faith is a conduit. The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith (Rom. 5:1). This conduit is what God uses to take our sin from us and put it upon Christ while taking the righteousness of Christ and putting is upon us. We are imputed with the righteousness of Christ. God legally thinks of us as having been made righteous by the sacrifice of His Son. What a glorious truth!
Where Does Faith Come From?
Faith is given to us by God Himself. It isn’t something we do. It’s something the Spirit awakens in us as we are regenerated. Ephesians 2:8-9 explains this: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” When the verse says that “this is not your own doing,” it is talking about three things:
- The grace given you
- The salvation given you
- The faith given you
For if the Holy Spirit did not give faith to you, then it is thus a work of your own doing. Believing in something is a work, no matter who you are. But the verse is all about not gaining salvation by work; it’s all of grace. Even your faith.
So if you haven’t heard the Gospel before, let me make it clear. And I pray that the Lord Jesus will send His Spirit to awaken you to new life so that you are able to have faith in Him. Hopefully you’ll get this through this short list:
1. God is holy and just
2. You are utterly and totally sinful
3. God hates sin and cannot have you in His presence…ever!
4. Your debt must be paid for your to not go to Hell for eternity
5. God stepped down and paid your sin debt
6. If you repent of your sins and your goodness and turn to Christ for forgiveness and grace, you will be saved
7. Trust in Him and don’t stop
8. Die to self and live for Christ
9. Persevere and you will prove you’re saved
10. Now read your Bible and pray often
11. Now go into all the world and preach the good news you’ve just heard