Now faith is… Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
What is faith? How does it change a person’s life? If you’ve been a Christian for 5, 10, 20 years or more, how can you grow in faith?
Evangelicals have always stressed the wonderful truth that we are justified by faith. This truth was at the center of the Reformation, and it is central to a proper understanding of the gospel today.
We have rightly placed great emphasis on justification by faith and not by works. But we have not always had a good grasp on what faith actually is. We know what it isn’t—it’s not works, but what is it?
A high school student is confronted by his youth pastor because the boy has been sleeping with several girls in the youth group. When confronted, the student says to the pastor, “I was saved when I was fourteen, and I’ll live like hell if I want to.”
The boy believes that Jesus died and rose—at least that’s what he says. But is this saving faith? We hear on the news about priests who have abused children and evangelists who have pilfered money, and these are people who talk about faith all the time.
In the New Testament, the apostle James warns us against a faith that is nothing more than bare belief, and he says that a faith like that won’t save you (Jas. 2:17). The devil knows Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died and rose again. If you have the same kind of faith as the devil, don’t be surprised if your future is with him.
What do you think are some characteristics of a faith that is genuine? How about a faith that is worthless? Try to be specific.