What is Faith in God?

by Pastor Nelson Attwood

Puritan author Thomas Manton wrote: “Faith is a grace by which we believe God’s word in the general, and in a special manner do receive Christ, and rest upon Him for grace here and glory hereafter.”  The biblical concept of faith involves three steps: 1) faith begins with knowledge of God, whom we are to trust, and why it is that we must trust Him.  2) Faith requires agreement with that knowledge and 3) faith is casting ourselves entirely upon God, whom we are trusting, so that we no longer trust anything/anyone else for what God has promised. 

Faith requires Knowledge.

In Acts 24:14b Paul says, “…believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets.”  Paul is giving a defense of his faith in Christ to the governor.  Faith is founded upon Biblical truth, Rom.10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The Bible – God’s Word – teaches that God is holy, just, and righteous.  He requires all mankind to live in perfect obedience to Him, and His Word.  The Bible further teaches that all men have sinned and failed to glorify God, Rom.3:23.  Sin is our wilful, rebellious, refusal of to obey God’s Word, 1Joh.3:4.  The payment we must make for that disobedience is death, which is eternal separation from God, Rom.6:23.  But, God so loved the world that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live as truly man, and truly God, to be perfectly obedient, without even the possibility of sin, so that He could die in our place, the righteous, for the unrighteous, in order to wash our consciences clean, declare us righteous, and reconcile us to God, 1Peter 3:18, Rom.5:6-11.  The Bible further tells us that we are declared righteous (justified) by faith in God.  Faith in God must be accompanied by hating and turning away from our sin and striving to live in obedience to God.  Refusal to repent and believe the gospel will result in God’s condemnation, John.3:16-19, whereby those who refuse His grace and salvation are cast into the lake of fire without hope of relief or rescue.  But, for those who trust in God, there is His promise of forgiveness of sin, sealing and filling with His Holy Spirit, being steadily transformed into Christ’s image, unrestrained joy in God, adoption into His family, and eternity in God’s presence.  Those are the simple truths of the gospel of God, by which we can be saved. 

Faith requires Agreement.

But knowledge alone saves nobody.  The demons and Satan himself know more of the sound teaching of the Bible than we will ever know, yet they are not saved.  The Pharisees knew the scriptures to a degree that few Christians today can claim, yet they were not saved, apart from faith.  The exercise of saving faith is not merely knowing the facts of salvation.  Faith also requires agreement.  By believing, as Paul said in Acts 24:14, he meant that he knew the facts and information of the scriptures to be true, and that he fully agreed with them.  Agreement with the facts of the gospel is to receive them for ourselves as true, as they stand, unaltered by us.  Saving faith requires that we agree with God, about all He says through his word.  Knowing the facts of the gospel is not enough, we must agree with God about them and yet, even knowledge and agreement, are still insufficient to save. 

Faith Requires Commitment.

Faith also requires a complete submission and commitment of ourselves to God. If I know the Biblical facts of salvation and agree with God about them, what then is left for God’s salvation and promises to be mine?  It is to radically commit myself to Him; to throw myself upon God.  Like a person rescued from a burning building, he feels the fire’s heat and hears the crash of the structure collapsing.  He sees the rescue ladder looming close and hears the fireman’s call to grab his hand.  To be saved, he must let go of the building and seize onto the fireman’s hand to be pulled to safety.  He knows and agree: the ladder is strong enough, the fireman will not let him go, that safety and life await.  He must let go of the old support.  He must commit himself to the fireman’s care.  Saving faith is knowledge, agreement and trust – commitment to God. 

Coming to Christ, I cast myself on Him.  I entrust myself and my conscience to His cleansing; my life to following Him, my everything into the careful, saving grasp of God.  It requires that I submit to His ways and obedience to His Word.  As in the fireman story, the rescued man does not assume control of the ladder.  He submits to the fireman and does what he is told; so also, the Christian.  In trusting ourselves to God, we let go of all other flimsy and failing ways to please God and deal with our sin.  It is by faith alone that we please God, Heb.11:6

But, there’s more…

By Faith in God we receive Christ our satisfactory, substitutionary sacrifice Rom.3:25.  By Faith we have forgiveness of sin, and a place with God, Acts 26:18.  By Faith we receive the right to be called God’s children, John.1:12.  By Faith our hearts are cleansed, Acts.15:9.    By Faith we shall live as just, Rom.1:17  By Faith we’re justified and have peace with God, access into His grace, and joy in hope of His glory, Rom.5:1–2.  By Faith, we’ve been crucified with Christ; He lives in us, and we live in Him, Gal.2:20. 

And so on.  Gal.3:8, 11, 22, 3:24, 5:5, Heb.10:38, Heb.11, James 2.

Trust and Obey, for theirs no other way to be happy in Jesus