What Is Saving Faith?
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” But what unseen thing are we supposed to hope for? ¹ How much do we have to know about this unseen conviction? And how strong does our assurance of this hope have to be, in order to save us? Our faith is based on the promises of God, which the bible said existed before the ages began.² Everything God says is considered a promise, because he cannot lie; so faith is simply trusting God.³ God makes it clear that he has to supernaturally show each person the basic truths of saving faith, or we cannot believe.⁴ Fortunately, God sends messengers and uses his Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin righteousness and judgement, which are the basic requirements for saving faith.⁵ Saving faith requires us to believe that God exists, and that we are not right with him, and that he is willing and able to make us right with him.⁶ There are several examples in the scripture of people who knew very little about God, except these basic things, but God makes it clear that they were saved.⁷ God only gave Abraham metaphors about Jesus’ death for sin and heaven, but God said his faith was counted as righteousness.⁸ The man who died on the cross next to Jesus also knew very little about Jesus, but Jesus said his faith would get him to heaven.⁹ The scripture tells us that none of the Old Testament prophets knew who the Christ would be or when he would come, and even those who knew Jesus personally, only knew dimly about the things of God.¹⁰ Knowing all the details of who Jesus is and how the Father can accept his blood for our sins is a good thing, but it is not necessary to be saved. The New Testament says if we believe we are sinners, but Jesus died in our place, this is enough to go to heaven.¹¹
The Scripture says true faith comes from the heart, which means God doesn’t just want us to say we are sorry for sinning and thankful that he forgave us, but we need to really be sorry for sinning and be convinced that God actually forgave us.¹²
The Bible combines real faith with repentance, which is a change in the way we think, speak and act.¹³ It says what we believe will change what we say and do.¹⁴ If I believe something is flaming hot, I won’t touch it, and I should warn someone who is about to touch it. In the same way, If I believe Jesus forgave me, and that he rewords obedience and punishes sin, I will change what I say and do, and I should tell others about him.¹⁵
Abraham is an excellent example of how God teaches and develops saving faith in a person.
He is referred to as the Father of faith, not because he was the first one to have saving faith, but because God made a special promised to Abraham that he and his descendants would inherit an eternal land.¹⁶ God said that, all who believe God’s promises like Abraham, will also inherit this eternal land with Abraham.¹⁷ Abraham didn’t immediately receive a strong faith, but God had to build his faith, just like God must build everyone’s faith.⁴ God promised Abraham early on that he would give him and his offspring the land of Canaan.¹⁸ But Abraham doubted God, which can be seen when he tells his wife Sarah to say she is his sister, so that Pharaoh and Abimelech, wouldn’t kill him.¹⁹ Even though Abraham doubted God’s ability to protect him and fulfill his promise, God still remained faithful, and continued building Abraham’s faith.²⁰ The scripture says Abraham’s faith continued growing stronger until he believed God would raise his son Isaac from the dead, in order to fulfill his promise to Abraham.²¹ One of the ways God built Abraham’s faith, was by miracles, such as giving Sarah a son at 90 years old, or protecting Abraham and Sarah from other nations, through a dream, or giving them a plague, or closing the wombs of their women.²² God also built Abraham’s faith by reminding, reaffirming and explaining his promises to Abraham; God even swore on oath to Abraham that he would do what he previously promised.²³ So ultimately God gets the credit for Abraham’s faith and God will also get the credit for our faith, because only God can increase someone’s faith.⁴ But we can resist or comply to God’s work in our lives and this will affect our faith. Part of the reason Abraham was given great faith, was because he was obedient to do what God said.²⁴ Obedience shows that we have faith, but it is also a way to draw near and know God more intimately, which increases our faith.²⁵ Whereas disobedience shows a lack of faith, and it hardens our hearts to what God is trying to teach us.²⁶
In summary, saving faith doesn’t require us to know everything about God, and even if we doubt God from time to time, our hope isn’t in our own faith, but in the faithfulness of God to do what he promised. Like Abraham, God promised to continue building our faith over time, if we continue trying to do what he tells us.²⁷ All God requires us to do, in order to be saved, is believe we are sinners and that Jesus died to take our sins away. If we believe these truths, God promised we will be saved.¹¹
① Hebrews 11:1 ② Titus 1:2 / 2 Peter 1:3-4 ③ Hebrews 6:18 / John 15:3 / Titus 1:2 ④ 1 Corinthians 2:14 / Matthew 16:17/ Hebrews 12:2 / Philippians 1:6 ⑤ Romans 10:13-15 / John 16:8 ⑥ Hebrews 11:6 / Isaiah 59:2 / Romans 10:13 ⑦ Hebrews 11 ⑧ Genesis 15:6 ⑨ Luke 23:43 ⑩ 1 Corinthians 13:12 / Matthew 13:17 / 1 Peter 1:10-12 ⑪ John 3:14-16 / Romans 10:9 ⑫ Joel 2:13 / Romans 10:9 ⑬ Mark 1:15 ⑭ James 2:14-26 / Matthew 12:34 / Matthew 7:16–18 / Titus 1:1 / Romans 12:2 ⑮ Hebrews 12:6 / Hebrews 11:6 ⑯ Romans 4:17–18 ⑰ Hebrews 11:16 / Galatians 3:29 / Romans 4:23–24 / Galatians 3:7 ⑱ Genesis 12:7 ⑲ Genesis 12:18–19 / Genesis 20:2 ⑳ 2 Timothy 2:13 / Romans 4:20 ㉑ Hebrews 11:19 / Romans 4:20 ㉒ Genesis 12:17 / Genesis 20:18 / Genesis 20:3–7 / Genesis 17:17 ㉓ Hebrews 6:13 / Genesis 22:16–18 / Genesis 15:4–18 / Genesis 12:7 / Genesis 13:14-18 / Genesis 17:1-8 / Genesis 18:17–19 ㉔ John 8:39 / James 2:20-24 ㉕ James 4:8 / Hebrews 12:14 ㉖ Hebrews 3:12-13 / Isaiah 59:2 / Isaiah 63:10 ㉗ Philippians 1:6 / Hebrews 12:2 / 1 Peter 1:6-7
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If you click on the verse reference and drag it to the pop-up, then you can scroll down on the pop-up box
Here are some verses about faith, that use different words to describe what faith is. I underlined the words that describe saving faith.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Romans 10:14–17 "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
Joel 2:32 "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls." (If we ask God to save us, because we believe we are sinners and that he can save us, then he will save us.)
Romans 8:24 "For in this hopewe were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?" (If our hope for the future is heaven, because we believe God is willing and able to save us, then this hope will save us)
Isaiah 53:11 "Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledgeshall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities."
(This is saying that faith is merely knowing that Jesus paid for our sins)
John 15:3 "Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you." (This is saying that God’s word has the power to save us, if we believe it.)
Isaiah 30:15 "For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling," (This is saying that if we turn from our sin because we believe God and are resting or trusting in his promises, then we will be saved.)
Proverbs 16:6 "By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil." (This seems to be saying, if we believe in the truth about God, he will save us because he is loving and kind.)
Joel 2:13–14 "and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?" (I think this is saying that if we believe are sinners, and we cry out to God for mercy, then because we believed God can save us, he will save us.)
Psalm 103:13 "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him." (If we believe that God punishes sin, then we fear him. Compassion is mentioned because their fear has led them to seek for God’s forgiveness.)
Psalm 50:23 "The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Orders his way aright show the change in actions that saving faith brings about)