How Does Someone Have Faith?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 12, 2014 2 comments

by Katie Erickson

As followers of Christ, we often talk about having faith. But what is faith, and how do we actually have faith? Is it just a simple belief in something, or is there more to it than that?

Before we look at how someone can have faith, we need to know what faith actually is. Merriam-Webster’s primary definition for faith is, “strong belief or trust in someone or something.” The most basic definition of faith in the Bible is found in Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” So, faith is a strong belief in what we do not see; in the case of followers of Christ, that faith and trust is placed in God. For more on what faith is, check out this blog post.

Every day we place our faith in various things that we can see, more or less. When I sit on a chair, I have faith that it will not break apart underneath me. When I get in a car and start driving, I have faith that the brakes will work when I press the pedal. But all of these examples are much simpler than having faith in God. Is it enough to simply acknowledge that God exists, and suddenly you have faith? How can we have a strong belief in a God that we cannot see, and cannot fully understand?

The answer to these questions lies in how it is we can have faith in God. We know that every one of us has original sin, so we are sinful beings. Because of that sin, we are not at all worthy to even approach God, much less to believe in Him and have a relationship with Him. But thanks to His Son Jesus dying a sacrificial death for us, we can be in relationship with God - even though we don’t deserve it. It is because of God’s grace for us that we can even have faith in the first place. We don’t deserve to know God at all because of our sin, but because of His grace we are capable of having faith in Him.

So once we recognize our sin and God’s grace that is available to each and every one of us, now what? We have faith in the God that loves us enough to save us from our sins, and we acknowledge all that God has done for us even though we don’t deserve any of it. But what then? Is it enough just to mentally acknowledge this, and that’s it? No! Faith means action.

James 2:14-20 says the following: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?”

I’d say that passage pretty much speaks for itself. Faith without deeds is useless; what we do is how we show our faith, or lack thereof. We don’t do good deeds simply because it’s the right thing to do, but out of a love and faith in God.

So how does someone have faith? Acknowledge your need for God’s grace, believe that what God’s word says is true and that Jesus provided the sacrifice we need to connect with God, and show your faith by being obedient to God out of love for Him.


Charlie said...

What separates faith from a mere belief (or lack of one) is that faith requires action that relies on that belief (or lack thereof) being true. A Christian will act with a dependence, a reliance, that Jesus did die on the cross and save us from our sin. A Muslim will act with a dependence, a reliance, that when they kill themselves and others for the sake of Allah, they will get seven virgins in heaven. And an atheist will act upon a dependence, a reliance, on the belief that there is no God. Everyone has faith. But ultimately, Christ is the only person/object that will never fail.

Bill said...

Nice post!!! One other aspect is that "coming to faith" in Jesus is not a human act - it is a work of the Holy Spirit.
While I agree that faith without works is dead, an over reliance on the James 2 passage can lead some people into a works righteousness mentality and that is very dangerous as it detracts from the work Jesus has already accomplished on our behalf since they feel they have to do their part or feel that they are not doing enough. The works mentioned in James 2 have to be viewed as fruits of faith (an output) and not an input (requirement) of having faith.
Again, well done!