The Back Page
Faith is the first and foundational of the three cardinal Christian virtues of “faith, hope, and love.”
But since this is The Back Page, we have been considering them in backwards order.
“Faith” is sometimes used in the sense of “the faith”—i.e., that body of essential truths that
summarizes Christianity (e.g. Jude 3 “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”).
But more frequently “faith” is the word that describes what our response to the gospel should be. We
should have faith in it; we should believe it.
To be biblically accurate, we are not saved by faith. We could have all the faith in the world, but if
our faith were in ourselves or in the wrong gospel, or if God were unwilling to save, all the faith in the
world could not help us. We are saved by grace. Only God’s grace saves us. How do we get that grace?
Through faith. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8).
What then is the nature of faith—that human response that opens the door to the saving grace we
need? Biblical faith has three parts—1) data to be believed, 2) mental agreement with the data, 3)
personally entrusting ourselves to the data. Faith is not complete until it has all three. We don’t just
believe, we believe something (i.e., the data). Not only do we know the data, but we agree with it. Then
we entrust ourselves to it.
You have heard about Abraham Lincoln. Probably you agree with the data you have heard—he was
our sixteenth president, his face is on the penny, he led us through the Civil War. But Lincoln is dead and
gone, so you don’t trust him to do anything for you. Many people who consider themselves Christians
exercise only an Abraham Lincoln type of “faith” in Jesus. They have heard certain facts about Jesus, and
more or less agree with those facts (at least they do not argue against them). But they have not trusted him
to save them. Theirs is not biblical faith, since it lacks the third component. Finally, if we entrust
ourselves to Jesus, we will act on that decision, because “faith without works is dead.”
Is your faith in Jesus an “Abraham Lincoln” type of faith that only agrees with the facts, or is it
something deeper and more?