Yesterday we discussed the identity of Jesus Christ, and I said that to be saved from hell one must have faith in Jesus Christ. Today I thought we'd unpack that a little. What is faith, and what does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ?
There is a spiritual reality which is beyond our normal perception. A great many people believe so and have some idea in their head of what it might be like. Some believe that we are all a part of the one spiritual being. Others believe that there are many gods, all influencing different aspects of life. But what is the truth regarding the spiritual universe? Well, as a Christian, I believe in the Bible which tells us that there is one God who created all things. What's more, He is a “personal” God. That is to say, God desires to have a personal relationship with each and every one of us. He desires for you to know Him. As you read the Bible, you will find many ways in which this is expressed. God is described as a father, a husband, a shepherd, a king... These all help us to understand the kinds of personal interactions and relationships God wants with us. The “spiritual reality” we live in is that there is one God who created us and loves us like a father or a husband, guides and protects us like a shepherd, and has absolute authority over us like a king. “Faith” is knowing that this is indeed the true reality we live in.
The Bible says that “Faith is ... the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The “conviction of things not seen” is much like what I've just said. It is knowing that the spiritual reality that the Bible describes to us is the truth. We cannot see God... the spiritual reality is beyond our normal perception. But we can know in our hearts that what the Bible tells us is true.
As the days progress, hopefully we'll see more and more of what faith is and what it looks like. But fundamentally, faith is believing that what the Bible tells us about God and Jesus Christ is true. And when a person has faith, it will affect the way they live their lives. If you truly believe that Jesus is king over all, then you will behave in obedience to your king. If you truly believe that God is a loving father, then you will be comforted in times of trouble. Faith is not, however, holding on to ideas just because they make you feel good. Faith is believing what is true, regardless of how it makes you feel, simply because it is true. Faith is the genuine belief that what the Bible teaches is reality. And so faith is “believing”. The other word I'd like to associate with faith is “trusting”. To trust in the reality of God is to depend and rely on the fact that God is who He says He is, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour of mankind as the Bible tells us. Trust is integral to Biblical faith. A person can know all about Jesus, and even believe that much of what the Bible says about Jesus is true, and yet have no relationship with Him and not trust Him in any way; or they may even hate Him. Faith is a trust-relationship with Christ.
But how do we come to that place? How do we get faith? Faith ultimately comes from God alone. If you believe what I tell you about the Bible, it is because God Himself is working in your life. But I believe that faith comes first by wanting to know who God really is. And as you begin to seek after God, God will reveal Himself to you. The Bible affirms this in a few ways. Firstly, it tells us this:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
Those who are saved and have faith, received it as a gift from God. This is where faith begins, and it continues to grow as we desire for God to reveal Himself to us.
for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
The “reward” that God gives to those who seek Him is more of Himself. He will convince you of the truth of the Bible and of the testimony of His Son, Jesus Christ. Faith is not necessarily understanding it all. Faith is something that grows as your relationship with God grows.
Until tomorrow, consider the words of Scripture:
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)