What is True Faith?
What does it mean to have faith? What is True faith?
The English language is a difficult language by all accounts. People trying to learn it as a second language struggle because either there is no word that fully translates what they are trying to say or there are many words that mean the same thing.
When the Bible is translated into English, often a word is used, but the actual meaning of the original word is not rightly understood because of this difficulty in our language. Even those of us who only speak English can become confused by words that seem to mean one thing but actually mean another. The word “Faith” is one of those words.
Understanding what is meant by Biblical “faith” is essential. If we do not fully comprehend this one word, we will be like the people at the judgment seat of Christ that he tells us about in Matthew 7:21. They thought they had faith to enter into heaven but Jesus tells them that they did not.
Understanding Faith is Crucial
Faith is important for two basic reasons. Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us that it is by God’s Grace we are saved, through Faith. We can only be saved because of God’s grace. Nothing we can do can earn that salvation. We are completely dependent on God to save us. And He does! He does this through faith.
Although God has given us Grace allowing us to be with Him forever, this salvation is only to those who have faith. Faith is the conduit for His Grace. Without faith, we cannot be saved because no channel, no conduit exists through which His Grace can flow to us. God’s Grace saves us through our faith (in Jesus). We call this “Justification.” Justification is our being made right with God.
The second reason faith is important comes from Hebrews 11:6. Here, we learn we cannot please God without faith. For example, we can do all sorts of great things. God can even use us to do great things for Him. He did this throughout the Bible. He used Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar for His purposes. He used pagan nations for His purposes in the times of the Judges and the Kings. God continues to use people and nations that don’t have faith in Him to do His work.
However, just because God does this, doesn’t mean He is pleased. Pharaoh wasn’t pleasing to God. The pagan nations were not pleasing to God. To please God, we must have faith. Pleasing God is the reason we exist. Hence, having faith is essential since it leads to our salvation and our pleasing God.
What Faith Means
Next, we ought to understand what faith means. We normally take this English word to mean one of several things: to know something that we haven’t proof of, to believe something that we might not be able to see, to trust in something. The thing about faith is that it isn’t any one of these things. It is all of these things. Having faith is to know something, to believe it and to trust it.
Too often, people think any one of these things is faith. They equate faith to knowing, or faith to believing or faith to trusting. None of these alone is the Biblical understanding of faith. All of these together are. You must know, believe and trust to have Biblical faith and it must come in that order.
What is the difference between these seemingly identical words and how does this work? First, you need to know what it is in which you have faith. You cannot have faith regarding something or someone without first knowing what that is. In order to have faith in something, you must know about it and know what it is.
If Abraham Lincoln were transported in time and landed in a corn field in Pennsylvania, he might look up, see a plane flying over head, and be bewildered at what it might be. Since he has no idea what a plane is, he cannot possibly have faith that flying is safe. Romans 10:14 teaches we cannot believe without hearing. We cannot have faith without knowledge. We must know about something before we can believe in it.
So now that we know about it, we can believe it. In other words, knowing and believing are two different things. We can know many things, but it doesn’t mean we believe them. The Internet is filled with knowledge. If there is anything to know, we can know it from the Internet. However, just because we go through pages and pages, browsing the Internet does not mean that we believe everything we read. We can know things, but the next step is believing them.
Belief deals with the heart, while knowledge deals with the head. Romans 10:9 explains we need to believe with our heart. Many people know in their heads but they don’t know in their hearts. Faith is not True Faith unless it is both known in our heads and in our hearts.
Finally, true faith means we trust what we believe. Where, “knowing” is faith in the mind and “believing” is faith in the heart, “trusting” is faith in the body. To trust in what we believe is to act on that belief. True Biblical faith does not stop at the head or the heart; it continues with the body. Action is needed for true Biblical faith. If we do not act upon the things we know and believe, then we have what James calls a dead faith (James 2:17).
If we know that a plane flies people through the sky from one place to another and we believe that it can do it, but we never get in a plane due to fear, it proves that we have no faith in the plane. If we get on board and trust in the plane to get us from one place to another, it shows that we have faith in the plane. Biblical faith must include action.
In Matthew 19:16-22, the rich young ruler obviously knew about Jesus and believed on Him. After all, he went to Jesus asking about eternal life, which implies that he knew and believed that Jesus had that answer. However, his actions show us that he did not trust in him. Everyone reading this passage understands that the young man did not gain eternal life because he did not act upon his knowledge and belief. It becomes evident that without his action, he did not have faith, regardless of the fact that he knew about Jesus and believed in his heart that Jesus could give him eternal life.
What True Faith Looks Like
Hence, if we want to have eternal life and we want to please God, we must have Biblical faith. This faith is not just knowing, believing or trusting. It is knowing, believing and trusting. Let us know, believe and trust in Jesus with all our minds, our hearts and our strength (Mark 12:30). This is what it means to have faith. This is what it means to love God and know Him. This is eternal life (John 17:3).
Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Jesus wondered whether he would find faith when he returned (Luke 18:8). He knew when he returns, the church will be apostate (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Yet, he also knew there will be a remnant that he will take to be with him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Check yourself to ensure you are in that remnant so that you will not be left behind. If upon inspection, you realize you do not know enough, study the Bible more (not the false teachers that are leading the apostate church) (2 Timothy 2:15). If you do not believe enough, spend more time in prayer to grow your relationship with Him. If you do not trust enough, do something that you know God is calling you to do, even though you don’t think you can do it (Romans 12:1-2). Give Him praise Him when you are suffering (Romans 5:3-5). Doing these things will build True Faith and will lead to everlasting life and to glorifying God.