For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.—Romans 10:10Here at Renewed Heart Ministries we have recently received many inquiries concerning Faith. “What is it?” “How do I exercise it?” There are a few Biblical principles that teaches what one needs understand in order to comprehend exactly what Faith is and what it isn’t.
First what is Faith? There are three passages that give us a clue.
For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness . . . (Romans 10:10)
And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! (Luke 24:25)
And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” (Acts 8:37)
What all three of these passages tell us is that Faith is something that a person experiences on a heart level. This is not to say that Faith does not involve a person’s intellect, but that it goes deeper than a mere intellectual response to the gospel. It touches and engages the heart, not just the head. This must be held in the forefront in order to understand the words of James.
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
James is referring to a mental assent to God. Again, Faith is much more than simply believing something in your mind, it’s a belief that engages your heart as well.
So how does one experience Faith? Three more verses make it simple enough for a child to understand.
So Faith comes from hearing . . . the word [or message] of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
What was Christ’s message? ” . . . God is love.”(1 John 4:8)
What Paul is simply trying to have us understand is that Faith, being a heart level response, is the heartfelt reaction that we experience in response to the message of God’s love for us.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith which works by love. (Galatians 5:6)
Or as William Tyndale’s New Testament reads:
“. . . faith, which by love is mighty in operation.”(Galatians 5:6)
Faith is the heartfelt response in each of us, the gratitude and appreciation activated by the realization of God’s great love for us that also awakens in us the desire to love God back.
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
This means that Faith is more than what some call “Trust.” Trust is all about me! It’s egocentric. I trust that God will save me, but I’m still concerned only about myself. (This is the problem with most of traditional Christianity’s focus.) Biblical faith, on the other hand, is believing in God’s love for me, with my heart not just my head, which leads me to want to no longer live for myself but only for Him and others. This is “Faith which works by love.”
“As we behold the glory of Christ, we become changed into His image. We have that faith which works by love, and purifies the soul. Our hearts are renewed, and we are made willing to obey God in all things.” (Review and Herald, Dec. 15, 1896)
Yes, Faith is not feeling. We choose to believe God loves us regardless of how we feel, but once that belief has been decided, God’s love does touch our heart and awakens in us the desire to love Him back.
Faith is more than mental assent to a list of doctrines. (Even the demons do this and tremble.)
Faith is more than mere trust that Jesus will save me. (This is primarily egocentric)
Faith is the heart level response we experience to the truth of God’s character of Love and His love for us! (Awakening in us the desire to love Him back!)
Do you want to experience deeper Faith, my friend? As odd as this may sound, stop trying so hard to believe this week and instead start focusing on God’s great love for you. Let God’s love for you activate or rather awaken a deeper Faith within you. “God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) He has given it to you. It is a sleeping giant deep within you, waiting to be awakened by the realization of God’s great love for you, for “by love is love awakened.”