I am a pretty concrete thinker.
"Christian" words like sanctified, glory, salvation, hallelujah, atonement, propitiation and faith are words that, for me, seem to float around my head cloaked in an ethereal cloud. I have a general knowledge of what they mean... but their true and deep meaning is lost in the mist of church speak.
It's important for all of us, believers and seekers, to know these types of words. We need to de-MIST-ify them and let their true meaning sink right into the marrow of our bones.
Faith is one of those words. Do we really know what it means? Let's work with the Holy Spirit to blow the fogginess off of it and get to a real and meaningful definition of FAITH...
When I think of the word FAITH... I also think of the word BELIEVE. They are somewhat synonymous. Faith is the noun and believe is the verb.
Let's put it like this... faith is the "person, place or thing" and believe is the "doing word".
To talk about a saving faith we need to look closely at the word believe.
Believe is the Greek word PISTEO. It is a word that signifies a past action that continues to go on into the present. It means to have trust or faith in something... to accept something as true...to accept the word or evidence.
But Christian belief carries an even greater and deeper meaning... the definition cannot stop there! There must be something more!!!
James 2: 19 says ...
YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD IS ONE. YOU DO WELL: THE DEMONS ALSO BELIEVE AND SHUDDER.
Here's what James is saying... When we believe that God is the only and true God we are right in our thinking. Even the demons believe that and it makes them shake in their fiery shoes!
And here is the really important part... they BELIEVE in God but that belief does not save them from hell!!!!!
Just acknowledging and having a firm assent (belief) that God is real and He is... well, God does not save them!
There is more to saving belief or faith.
Here is a good working definition of believing that leads to salvation...
1. A STRONG CONVICTION OF THE TRUTH
Believing that the gospel is true...
That Jesus, God incarnate, came to planet earth for the purpose of taking on our sins and dying in our place for them. That He lead a perfectly sinless life and that He died on the cross and spilled His perfect blood accepting the punishment of death instead of us. That He was buried because He was dead, but after three days (Jewish days) He arose from the dead... alive. The grave could not hold Him! Then after 40 days he ascended to heaven... to the Father.
Even the demons recognized Jesus and believed (intellectually knew it was true) in the gospel... but that is where their belief stopped!
I'm afraid that so many of us think that we are Christians, yet our faith... what we believe in... stops there too!
2. A PERSONAL SURRENDER
In light of believing in the gospel and all it says we can now see ourselves as we really are... sinners! Falling so short of what God had intended us to be. Being rebellious... being out of God's will!
Repentance (turning back to God and asking Him to forgive us) begins our personal surrender.
We call Jesus LORD... and so He is. LORD means Creator/Owner.
Once we repent of our sins we can ask the LORD to take and use our lives... We can hand over our lives and ourselves to Jesus. Only in His nail scarred hands can we begin to really live!
This is the point of belief that the demons are not willing go! They are prideful, wanting their own sinful way. They will never repent of their sin and hand rightful authority over their lives to Jesus! They run from Jesus in the scripture... we need to run to Him!!!!
3. A LIFESTYLE THAT REFLECTS THAT CHANGE
This step in saving faith is amazing!!!! Once we have a firm conviction in the truth of the gospel and we have asked God to forgive or sins and we give up the right to lead our lives for ourselves ... we will begin to change!!!
It's nothing we DO... God does it to us and through us!!! We will begin the lifelong process of SANCTIFICATION... becoming holy (set apart from common things). What that really means is we will, little by little, look more and more like Christ! God will work on us!!! We just have to keep believing and surrendering... being obedient. God will change our lives!!!!
I became a Christian at the age of 33. I can hardly recognize that girl, before I believed, as myself! I did not change myself... it's God's work in me that changed me!
I just kept believing the truth of the gospel... surrendering my will to Jesus (obeying) and God began to change me! Little by little!!!! It's a life long process!!!
THIS IS A FAITH THAT SAVES! Not just knowing the truth, but surrendering to it and being changed by it!
It is not accepting the truth and then never thinking about it again.
There is nothing we DO... we don't have to be "good" to spend eternity with God... it is a gift! A free gift!
It is our choice... do we accept the gift or not?
God will never force us to believe... to have a faith that saves... but He offers it to ALL!
John, "the disciple who Jesus loved" lived with our LORD during His public ministry on earth. He saw the miracles Jesus performed. John called them signs... signs that pointed out that Jesus was the one who would save us from an eternity without God.
He wrote about these miracles and believing in Jesus and said...
MANY OTHER SIGNS THEREFORE JESUS PREFORMED IN THE PRESENCE OF THE DISCIPLES, WHICH ARE NOT WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK:
BUT THESE (signs) HAVE BEEN WRITTEN THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD; AND THAT BELIEVING YOU MAY HAVE LIFE IN HIS NAME.
In these two verses John wrote about true belief... a saving faith in Jesus what would lead to life... eternity with God!
I hope that this definition of Faith has helped you as it helped me... giving me a deeper understanding of the beautiful faith I have... the faith that saved me! The same faith that our great and good God offers to you too!
May God be glorified by this post and may you be richly blessed today!