By this point in our faith venture you have read and understood the amazing message from God. We certainly encourage you to read the Bible for yourself to get the fuller story. You can even read it online for free. God’s message has been disseminated widely throughout the earth. There are many more details of the unfolding story of God which will add to your understanding of God’s message and potentially deepen your faith. God has spoken from beyond the universe through the agency of humans to give us the knowledge we need! It is imperative that He be heard!
Having provided a synopsis of the historic and biblical Christian faith, and defended it from some popular criticisms, our next step is to look at the Bible’s teaching about what it means to receive & welcome the Christian faith into your life. Here we become more personal, and I ask you to think about yourself and your reception of this wondrous message. God’s great gift of life through Jesus His Son is worth pondering as it relates to you. Here we also begin looking more closely at key Bible verses and what they teach about the faith God says you need on the journey of life.
Throughout the Bible it speaks of faith and illustrates it in the lives of countless men and women. The Bible’s definition of faith, though, is stated most clearly in Hebrews 11:1 in the New Testament. (Use the Table of Contents to find each book within the Bible.) The first part of the verse reads … “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for …” “Substance” literally in the original Koine Greek Language of the New Testament means “a standing under.” The picture is that faith “stands under” our hope. In other words, it is the foundation of our hope.
So hope and faith are related. Hope is a kind of future looking faith. It eagerly anticipates things from God in the future because of the faith it possesses in the present. Romans 8:24-25 explains hope this way, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
Hebrews 11:1 goes on to affirm “… and (faith is) the conviction of things not seen.” Faith involves a strong enough belief that it can be described as a “conviction.” When someone has faith he is convinced something is true. In Hebrews 3:14 faith is also likened to assurance. One is assured something is true, not by seeing it or all the evidence, but by faith. Faith is needed because things are not yet fully seen. Faith is believing something to be true without yet seeing it or having full proof. Faith is not needed where absolute fact is established. One is required to exercise some faith while the evidence is still arriving.
So at its core faith is confident belief, a genuine trust, and an assurance of the future based on promises. Merriam Webster online dictionary defines faith as “strong belief or trust in someone or something: belief in the existence of God…” We see the connection between faith and trust in the origin of the English word “faith.” It goes back to Middle English and the word feith. That word is from Anglo-French feid, fei, which in turn comes from the Latin fides; akin to Latin fidere to trust. So faith always involves trust.
In English today we use the term faith to show belief without full evidence. Some examples of English use are the following:
- Grandma claims that her faith in the Lord has given her the peace to handle this family tragedy.
- Our faith in the church has been badly shaken by recent scandals.
- Given her past history of lying, it requires a giant leap of faith for us to believe that Joanne is now telling the truth.
- Lending John the money to start his own business was an act of faith on his father’s part.
Here are some interesting popular quotes illustrating this basic meaning of faith as a confident trust and assurance. They are not definitions but help us to understand the concept of faith.
- “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr.
- “Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.” Scandinavian Saying
- “Faith is: dead to doubts, dumb to discouragements, blind to impossibilities.” Unknown source
Notice then that both in the Bible and in modern use faith involves these elements:
- Someone is exercising faith.
- Faith is directed toward a person or object.
- That person or object is trusted and believed.
- Faith is needed because the full evidence for something is not yet seen
- Faith is rational and has some basis for it otherwise there could be no assurance.
Putting these elements together concerning the Christian faith we see the following:
- Faith means we are the one’s believing God and His promises.
- Though we have the testimony of Scripture we have not seen all the things God tells us to believe.
- Nevertheless our faith is in the Bible and Jesus Christ. We take God at his word.
- We actually do trust the message and good news of the Bible, and we know we have faith.
- Our faith is not irrational but based on solid evidence.
Bible students and theologians in church history have tried to break down faith into three elements so as to demonstrate what true faith is and what it is not. In this dissection of faith, they came up with three elements of true faith. They used three Latin words for each element, but do not let these fancy words intimidate you. It is fairly easy to understand.
First Element = Knowledge (Noticia) (pronounced No – TISH – uh) Noticia has the word “note” in it and refers to information. Noticia is knowledge. Faith has to have some kind of information or knowledge presented to it before it can believe. Examples: “I will keep your wallet safe while you play basketball.” That is information (a promise) and without it, faith does not exist. “Go ahead and jump! Daddy will catch you.” Without that information – that promise – faith cannot be exercised. Paul wrote in the Bible, “God will provide for all your needs in Christ Jesus.” Faith has to note some claim given to it for faith to emerge. That means that faith is not a feeling or something mysterious but has some objective communication of propositional truth. If there is no promise, no information, there can be no faith exercised. In the Christian faith noticia must include some understanding of God’s gospel (good news) of grace in salvation. God saves us because of Christ’s work on behalf of sinners. We need to be told that knowledge. Romans 10:14 points out the importance of knowledge when it asks, “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” Hearing and knowledge are needed.
But mere information is not enough to establish faith. Faith has to move beyond just hearing some knowledge. After all, anyone could doubt the claim of the person even though the promise was articulated clearly.
Second Element = Agreement (Assensus) (Pronounced ah – SENSE – us) Faith after hearing or learning a piece of information has to assent to its truth. The person who has faith not only notes the information but heartedly agrees with it. For it is entirely possible to be told some information or knowledge but not believe it to be true. If someone hears a promise and then doubts it is true, faith does not exist. However if someone hears the promise and then agrees it is true, that is the next necessary element for faith to emerge. So if one has both Noticia and Assensus, he both understands and believes something to be true. Let’s go back to those same examples to illustrate: “I will keep your wallet safe while you play basketball.” If one thinks the person will keep the wallet safe, then that is one step closer to the existence of faith. “Go ahead and jump! Daddy will catch you.” If the child believes Daddy really will actually catch him, then that is true agreement. “God will provide for all your needs in Christ Jesus.” If a person has confidence God is really generous as this promises states, he will agree — it is true God provides the needs of those who rely on Him.
Now, you might think that is all there is to faith, but there is one more necessary element. Some people unfortunately stop here and think this is enough. But they do not yet have faith. There is one more essential element without which no faith exists. Up till now what you have is agreement or an intellectual assent to truth, but not full-blown saving faith. The third element is essential too.
Third Element = Trust (Fiducia) (Pronounced fy – DOO – shuh) Faith has to go beyond agreement to an active trust in the promise made. The truth presented must be of such interest to the person that he actively trusts it. Fiducia is a full trust and commitment to the truth presented because of personal need. Let’s go back to our three examples again. “I will keep your wallet safe while you play basketball.” One has to know he needs someone to watch his wallet and then give the wallet to the friend who promised to guard it, for faith to exist. If he does not place the wallet in his hands for safekeeping, even if he thinks the friend will probably guard it safely, he has NOT exercised faith. “Go ahead and jump! Daddy will catch you.” The child has to know she is stuck in the tree and in trouble, then do more than be reasonably assured Daddy will catch her. She has to trust him enough to jump into his arms. If she does not jump, faith in Daddy does NOT exist. “God will provide for all your needs in Christ Jesus.” One has to know he has needs and then obey God and give away money to others. He must actively trust God will repay him and take care of his needs, for faith to be real. This third and last element of faith is nothing less than a complete trust in the One who loved us and worked to save us. It is quite possible to be told the promise of the gospel and agree it it true, but never commit oneself to Jesus who promised it. Some know the Bible is true but pull back from following Jesus Christ. They never become one of Christ’s followers. The Bible states in James 2:19 that the demons cover the first two elements of belief: they know what God has said and know it is true, but they hate God and do not actively trust Him.
To welcome the Christian faith into your life it is very simple. You recognize your need of God and His forgiveness for your sins (wrongdoing). You accept the fact that Jesus is the powerful Savior who died on the cross to do away with the penalty for your sins and rose from the dead to triumph over death. And you then trust Him with your life and eternal future. You trust in such a way you begin to be an active follower of Jesus Christ and His teachings in the Bible. It’s not more complicated than that!
Just listen to some of the simple promises in the Bible telling you how to gain eternal life, be forgiven, be saved from God’s judgment, and become a child of God.
- Romans 10:13 “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
- John 1:12 “But as many as received (Jesus), to them (God) gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,”
- John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
- John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,”
- Acts 16:31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
- 1 Peter 1:8-9 “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”
If you understand how perfect and complete Jesus’ work to save us from God’s punishment is, then you will know there is nothing you can add to it by your own efforts. Christ’s saving work is totally effective and all encompassing. None of our good works or deeds can add to Jesus’ work in any way. We cannot make our salvation more complete by trying to obey God more than we have in the past. We have to admit that there is nothing we can do to earn favor with God. We must humble ourselves and receive Jesus Christ as God’s gift. Christ has totally taken care of every sin we have ever committed or might commit.
Put your trust in Jesus right now, and you will have everlasting life, forgiveness of sins, removal of judgment, and God as your Heavenly Father!! You will have true faith as your traveling companion for life and beyond!