There are two kinds of religion in the world – only two. There is one kind of religion that is based on works that people DO “in order to get to heaven.” In that category of religion you will find Islam, Hinduism, Shintoism, Judaism, Confucianism, and hundreds more. There is one other kind of religion, which is not a religion, but a relationship. It is based on what He, Jesus Christ, has DONE. What He, the Lord, has DONE, must be accepted by faith in order for what He has done to become effectual. That is, faith activates the promised deliverance. What is faith?
Some people simply look at faith as belief – and it is. For example, I believe chocolate ice cream is the best. That is an opinion, not faith. Some look at faith as some mystical, spiritual concept that really becomes dependent on the person with “faith.” For example, when someone says, “Just have faith, brother,” they hold to a mystical power of the faith itself as enabling the possessor to overcome a problem. But the verb “faith” is transitive, which means it requires an object. You cannot say, “Have faith,” because the verb “faith” requires a direct object. For example, it is correct to say, “Have faith in Jesus Christ,” because the direct object of faith is Jesus Christ. Faith does not save, but the object of the faith does.What is faith? There are three aspects of faith to fully understand it.
First, faith is not mere knowledge. The Latin word is “notia” for knowledge. There are many who have knowledge of God, but are hopelessly lost. Nicodemus approached Jesus, knowing about God, but he did not understand the things of God. John records in his gospel, “This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Nicodemus became a believer in Jesus, but only after he was confronted by Jesus.
Secondly, faith is not merely mental assent or agreement. The Latin word is “assensus.” It is not enough to agree that Jesus is the Christ, who died on the cross for sins. For example, demons know and agree about God, but they are condemned. James writes, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe– and tremble!” (Jam. 2:19) The demons believe (have knowledge) that there is a God and agree that Jesus is God, but they do not have saving faith, because they lack the third aspect of faith. Faith includes knowledge and agreement that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins, but faith includes a third term.
Thirdly, faith is trust in the object for salvation or deliverance. The Latin word is “fiducia.” Trust is reliance upon or dependence on the direct object of faith. Faith does not save, but the object is what saves. A person can have great faith in something, but if it is the wrong object, the person will not be saved. On the contrary, the slightest amount of faith, the size of a mustard seed, IN the right object – the Lord Jesus Christ – will guarantee salvation. That is grace. Faith is not dependent on what I do, but one what He has done on the cross for me.
Faith is like getting on an airplane and putting on the seat belt. Faith has awareness of FAA regulations that the plane is airworthy and there is a pilot that will fly the plane to a destination. However, many times the passengers do not see the pilot, nor do they do a pre-flight check on the plane, its logbook, or the mechanicals. They have faith that the plane ticket guarantees there will be a credible plane and pilot to fly the plane from point A to point B. Upon agreement with that information, the passenger gets on the plane, finds his seat, sits down, fastens his seat belt and then, he follows the flight attendant’s instructions of, “Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.” That faith is trusting in the plane and pilot for a safe flight to the destination. The passenger’s faith does not assure him of a safe transit from point A to point B.
There is no merit in the faith. The passenger can’t take any credit for the flight. The passenger can’t ask to get out mid-flight and help push the plane. The passenger can’t tell anyone else that he did anything to assist in the flight. In fact, he and his luggage, were a drag on the function of the flight, but the plane was designed to take him to his destination. The same is true with salvation. Faith accepts what Jesus has DONE on the cross and enjoys the blessing of a new eternal relationship. Just as all the credit goes to the pilot and the plane in the flight, all the credit in salvation goes to Jesus Christ submitting to the Father’s plan.