What kind of faith?

Most people have some type of faith. They have faith that the sun will rise again. They have faith in the forces of nature such as gravity. They have faith that George Washington was a real person who existed in the past and led our fledgling country through the beginning years of its existence. When their paycheck runs short and they need help to make the rent or mortgage payment, they may have faith in themselves and go out and get another job, or even resort to theft or cheating to get the money. When a friend or family member is injured or sick, they may call on God for help and have faith He will answer.

All of these things require something we label as faith. But many types of faith are represented in the above examples. Let’s examine each one briefly.

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

First is the simplest, most basic, kind of faith. It is the one we begin learning as soon as we can crawl. Situational faith. Situational faith is the belief in basic rules and laws such as gravity, forces of nature, the relationship between the earth and the rest of the universe: sun, moon, stars. Situational faith also includes the belief that a chair will hold us up if we sit on it, that the car will start when we turn the key in the ignition, that water will run from the tap or the light will come on if we flip the switch. In today’s world, belief in the Internet might fall into this category, or other types of technology.

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We don’t have to know everything HOW these things work to believe that they will. We believe from experience. Who hasn’t dropped something heavy on our toes? Or tried to leap over something when our muscles didn’t generate sufficient force to overcome gravity’s pull on our bodies and crashed indelicately (and perhaps painfully).

The second type of faith is historical faith. This is a belief that history actually happened, that historical figures actually existed and are not simply the figments of a collective societal imagination. George Washington falls into this category. Of course, various people interpret historical events differently. History is constantly being rewritten with a desire to spin historical events in favor of present political goals, but that is the topic of another day. And, there are those who dispute the reality of the moon landing, or even of the holocaust, but society mainly looks of these people as existing outside the realm of reality.

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We have historical faith because of evidence. There are photos and written accounts of figures and events from the past. We can research them from multiple, reliable sources. It would be impossible for all of these witnesses to keep a fictional story straight for so many years. They must be true.

Thirdly, there is personal faith or works-based faith. This faith is the idea that “I can do anything my mind sets out to do, all by myself.” Or with the help of a few friends. This is the American Way. “Pull myself up by my bootstraps” and sayings like that. Now, I’m not saying that a good work ethic isn’t important. Nor am I saying that helping oneself or one’s friends is bad. What I am saying is that a person who relies entirely on themselves and what they’ve done to save themselves has missed the message of the gospel.

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The final type of faith I want to discuss, and in my mind, the most important, is saving faith. We can have all the other kinds of faith and still be lost. To be saved, one must have saving faith. According to the Bible, a Christian needs only saving faith. In Romans 1, Paul says essentially that though people knew who God was (historical faith), they didn’t treat him like God (saving faith).

In Ephesians 2 Paul says that God didn’t just leave humans to live with personal faith, believing we could save ourselves. Instead, he sent Jesus to pay for the mountain of sins we’d racked up while trying to save ourselves. Now, all we need is to believe in what Jesus did on the Cross and we receive the grace that saves us. That is the essence of saving faith.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.

Ephesians 2:7-9 The Message

Compare the Message version to the NIV.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Grace is the means by which we are saved. Faith is the channel through which we are saved.

This is what we put our faith in. The cross of Jesus. He paid our ransom, so we might have grace.

Have you placed your faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross? Or are you still holding to another type of faith? Is your head full of knowledge about who Jesus is and what he did, but your heart has failed to jump in and place faith in what you know? Now is the time, my friends. Don’t delay. Jesus has his arms open, waiting for you to say yes to him. Believe, and you will be saved. But that belief, must be in the form of saving faith in Jesus, has done for you, not in what you can do for Him.

Blessings to you all in the name of our great and merciful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Please post questions or comments below. I’d love to connect with you and pray for you.