What Does It Mean to Believe? What Does It Mean to Have Faith?

What is faith? What does it really mean to believe? Is it:

  • a firm belief in something for which there is no proof, or something desired, and is expected to occur?
  • complete unfounded confidence?
  • makes up what is lacking in knowledge?
  • a belief in the trustworthiness of an idea that has not been proven?
  • a mental acceptance of and confidence in a claim as truth without proof supporting the claim?
  • a convinced belief; a condition of mind fully satisfied; next to actual knowledge?
  • an acceptance of ideals, beliefs, etc., which are not necessarily demonstrable through experimentation or reason?
  • not a mental construct, a set of propositions, or a statement of belief, but an inner attitude of confidence and deep trust which grounds the human soul in peace and inner stability?

What is it? What is biblical faith? What is saving faith? πιστευω (pisteuo) is the Greek word for faith. It basically means “to believe, have faith, have confidence (in something or someone), entrust (something to another).” We must consider the whole of Scripture to really determine what faith is. We must consider both the Apostle Paul (Romans 4, etc) and James, the half-brother of Jesus & leader of the Jerusalem Church. Saving, Justifying Faith has three things.

1. Knowledge/Content
There is no such thing as a contentless faith. A person can accurately say, “I don’t believe in anything.” However, if a person says, “I believe in nothing,” that is just like saying, “I don’t believe in anything.” A person who lacks faith in something lacks faith. However, I believe we would be hardpressed to find a person who truly believes in nothing, even atheists believe something whether evolution or whatever. Agnostics don’t deny believing or not believing. They have only come to an impasse and refuse to take a stand for or against. Either their intellect wants to believe but their heart refuses or their heart wants to believe and their intellect won’t allow them to make the leap. Regardless, it does not make any sense to have contentless faith.

Biblical faith cannot have faith in faith. It is not faith that saves but the content on which the faith resides. If faith alone can save apart from grace and even Jesus, then any faith would suffice. However, the Scriptures are clear that it is faith in Jesus Christ that saves (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12; etc.). A person who sincerely believes something is no better than a demon who sincerely believed in Lucifer at the fall of a third of the angels.

A person cannot say that I am a faithful person without stating that they have a faith in something or that something. The essence of faithfulness necessitates a standard or an object or a person to which to be faithful. However, somehow, today it is virtuous to have a contentless faith. Can faith be in and of itself? Is faith an object? Always ask them what their faith is in? However, this is not enough for this is the Christology and theology of demons. James 2:19 states, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” So for saving, justifying faith, something else is needed.

For me, this was where I was as a Southern living deep in the Bible belt. I can remember to this day being in middle school thinking I was a Christian. I attended FCA under a man named Mr. Manning in 8th grade. If anyone were to ask me if I were a Christian, I would have said, “Yes.” However, not that this is a test of being a Christian, if someone were to ask me what Noah’s arc was I couldn’t have told them. I remember distinctly being made fun of by a Christian friend for not knowing what this was. However, this deceit is cultural and runs deep in the South (From Virginia south, Texas east, probably excluding Florida). “Everyone” in the South is a Christian and attends a local church. And that was me.

2. Agreement/Assent
There are different levels of assent and doubt. With every belief there is a level of doubt (e.g., Mark 9:24; Thomas, Jn 20:24-25; Rom 12:3). It is not just a blind leap, but it is also not just a logical step. It is foolish to say that the greatest faith seeks the least evidence. This is merely a historical reaction against reason (Enlightenment). By learning more about God we don’t have less faith or less reason to have faith. Reason shows that faith is logical. “We believe that we may understand,

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