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The full definition of Christian faith is broader than that. Translated in the New Testament from the Greek word “pistis,” faith means “firm persuasion producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth,” “a personal surrender to Him,” and “conduct inspired by such surrender.” ( Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words , 1985, “Faith”).

So Do We Just “Believe?”

Christian faith is attitude, conviction and conduct based on a right relationship with God. It is not static, but grows in strength and depth as we nourish that relationship with our Creator throughout our lives.

Christian Faith + Christian Works

The Bible is consistent and plain in its teaching that salvation is a gift from God. But, even though it is a gift, something we cannot earn, we are expected to obey God if we are to receive that gift.

Jesus Christ expects actions—works—from us: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
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).

At the same time Jesus is also described as our merciful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17 Hebrews 2:17Why in all things it behooved him to be made like to his brothers, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
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). Works and grace go together. James, a younger half brother of Jesus, wrote his epistle in harmony with Jesus’ teachings and instructions. He not only wrote about works (James 2:14-26 James 2:14-26 14 What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yes, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 See you how faith worked with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
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) but addressed grace (James 4:6 James 4:6But he gives more grace. Why he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
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) and Christ’s “compassionate and merciful” nature (James 5:11 James 5:11Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
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).

Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith,” and we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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, New International Version). James summarized this concept simply and concisely, telling us that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20 James 2:20But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
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).

Enemies of Christian Faith

It is incredibly easy for us to stay in attitudes that come so naturally to our human nature. But certain attitudes can undermine Christian faith. They are:

  • Worry (Matthew 6:25-33 Matthew 6:25-33 25 Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature? 28 And why take you thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Why, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. 33 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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    ).
  • Fear (Matthew 8:23-26 Matthew 8:23-26 23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 26 And he said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
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    ).
  • Doubt (Matthew 14:30-31 Matthew 14:30-31 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?
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    ).
  • Human reasoning without spiritual understanding (Matthew 16:6-12 Matthew 16:6-12 6 Then Jesus said to them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said to them, O you of little faith, why reason you among yourselves, because you have brought no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? 11 How is it that you do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread, that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
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    ).

When It Seems God Doesn’t Hear or Answer

Few attitudes are more disheartening and destructive to Christian faith than the notion that God doesn’t hear our prayers, doesn’t answer or doesn’t care. It is easy to come to such conclusions when God doesn’t respond when or how we want.

The apostle Paul was a man who could have concluded that God doesn’t listen to people. After all, he urgently pleaded with God to intervene for him in a chronic trial. Paul could have concluded that God had not heard his pleas. But this is not the case. God simply gave Paul a different answer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 2 Corinthians 12:9And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
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).

In the meantime, Paul understood that God in His love will never allow us to fall into trials greater than we can endure. “God is faithful,” Paul wrote, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 1 Corinthians 10:13There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
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, NIV). Sometimes that “way out” is simply the determination to endure the trial, to “stand up under it.”

Your Own Walk of Christian Faith

God does not always answer our prayers to our immediate satisfaction and instantly deliver us from our trials. But He will always do what is best for us.

God promises a better reward (Hebrews 11:40 Hebrews 11:40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
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) for those who devote their lives to seeking the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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).

Begin now to develop the living faith that will see you through the trials of this life and into the coming Kingdom of God. Learn more about how to grow in Christian faith in our free booklet, You Can Have Living Faith, available online .