What is Christian faith? Can it be defined or is it merely a feeling and collection of ideas that represent your convictions?
What is faith?
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).
At the same time Jesus is also described as our merciful High Priest (Hebrews:2:17). 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) but addressed grace (James:4:6) and Christ's "compassionate and merciful" nature (James:5:11).
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, New International Version). James summarized this concept simply and concisely, telling us that "faith without works is dead" (James:2:20).
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:
Human reasoning without spiritual understanding (Matthew:16:6-12).
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).
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, 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) for those who devote their lives to seeking the Kingdom of God (Matthew:6:33).
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 .