What is Faith?
By Jim Murriner
Faith is a word, which is used in the religious world today, with little understanding of the meaning.
We find the word "faith" used in different ways in the Bible. Sometimes it is used to indicate a system of doctrines, such as in Jude 1:3.
"Beloved, when I give all diligence to …exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
This is the same way in which we use the word "faith" today, when we mention, that someone is of a certain faith, such as the Baptist faith, or the Catholic faith, etc. meaning that they hold to the belief of that certain religious group.
Eph. 2:8, points out clearly that it is by faith that we are saved.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
The word "faith" here has a different meaning than when it is used in Jude 1:3. Here we are told that it is by faith that we are saved. Yet if you examine the Scriptures, you will not find any statement telling us that we are saved by holding to a system of doctrines.
Since Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved by faith, it is essential that we know just what faith is. This is important because without the very thing, which God here calls "faith", we will not be saved.
Whatever faith is, we can see from Ephesians 2:8 that it is a gift from God. Since it is then a gift of God, it then is not something, which we learn to do, or are taught to do. Neither is it something, which we can earn, because if we could earn it, then it would not be a gift.
Ephesians 2:9 tells us that faith cannot be earned by works.
"Not of works, lest any man should boast."
While we might take great pride in our works, and while we might think that we are more pleasing unto God because we do what we think are good works, Romans 11:6 tells us that faith is of grace, but that works is not of grace.
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
Some would make baptism synonymous with faith. However our Lord in Matt 3:13 - 15 tells us, that baptism is indeed a work.
13 "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him."
14 "But John forbade him, saying, I need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?"
15 "And Jesus answering and said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him."
If baptism were not a work it would not be mentioned in connection with fulfilling righteousness at all.
There is no work that we can do to bring us in good standing with God. Even if there should be works that man might do to be right with God, there would be the problem of sins that have already been committed.
Many try to make "prayer" synonymous with "faith". They tell the lost sinner to ask Jesus to come into their heart, and to ask God to forgive their sins, and to say the sinners prayer, which teaches the sinner that prayer is the way they we are saved.
Others would make confession of sins synonymous with faith. This they do by telling the lost sinner that he must confess his sins and God will forgive him.
While the Bible does teach the children of God to confess their sins, and makes us a promise that when we do, God will forgive our sins, this is not talking about the lost sinner having their sins forgiven by confession, but for the child of God who has already had his sins paid for by Jesus Christ upon the cross, and also been given faith by God, that he might believe that the death of Jesus purchased his forgiveness.
There are only two words in the Bible, which are synonymous with faith. They are "trust" and "believe". So when we have faith in Jesus Christ as our savior we trust Him to do all that is necessary to satisfy the justice of God. Also when we have faith in Jesus Christ as our savior we believe that He did die for our sins.
Having faith is also spoken of as having confidence or being confident, which is very much like trusting.
We can see this in Philippians 1:6
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
Be very careful that your confidence, your trust, your faith, and your belief is in Jesus Christ, rather than in something which you have done, such as baptism, or confession, or prayer.