Despite the rise of the “nones” (those who don’t identify with any religion), many people still believe in God. Many people also believe in heaven or something like it. Most people would identify with a place in which we will be after death. If you asked these people if they believed that they would go to heaven when they die, most would probably say yes. If you asked them why they believe that they would, many would answer, well I believe in God and I’m a pretty good person.
What Is Faith Really?
Scripture tells us that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8). Seems to be pretty straight forward. The grace of God is what makes it possible for us to be saved and we access that grace through faith in Jesus. To me, this begs the question, what is faith, really? Is it simply an acknowledgement of the existence of God? Is it more like trust, a deeper belief? Or is it something different altogether?
I would like to propose to you that a verbal acknowledgement of the existence of God or Jesus Christ is not the faith that Ephesians 2:8 speaks of. Look at what James says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (2:19)! The author of Hebrews gives us a simple definition of faith. Let’s check it out: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). If you continue reading in Hebrews 11, the author points out many people who had great faith. In each instance, they did something by faith. In other words, their faith resulted in something tangible. Their lives were evident of what they believed.
This point can be seen when James says:
Let me explain it this way. Picture yourself walking down a street in a small town and while you are walking, I yell your way from the sidewalk that you shouldn’t continue walking down the road you are on because there is a large cliff you are walking towards. You respond telling me that you believe what I am saying and you don’t want to fall down the cliff. Real faith in what I was saying would cause you to change your direction because of the cliff. The faith that many people have wouldn’t result in anything being different. You would continue to walk down the street and fall to your death because you did not have real faith in what I was telling you.
So, what is faith?
Faith is a belief that results in living a life that takes that belief into account. In fact, faith changes everything. Is your faith merely an acknowledgement of the existence of God or Jesus Christ? Even the demons believe in God. That is not real faith. Faith in Jesus Christ results in life change. It results in a total abandonment of your will and a total adoption of God’s. Faith is not about doing good things, but it naturally results in doing good things. It results in obedience.