Our concern here is not so much with the 'what' of belief. We are thinking more about the 'how' of believing - faith as belief, praise, confession, trust and rejoicing. By looking at faith in this way, we will see the importance of a living faith, a life-changing relationship with God.
As we discover what it means to have faith, we will discover that faith is a many-sided thing.
(i) Faith as belief
Faith means believing the truth of the Gospel. It means believing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins. It means believing that our Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.
Christian faith is not merely an optimistic feeling about life.
It is faith in Jesus Christ. It means believing what God has said in His Word concerning Jesus Christ.
If we claim to be Christians, we cannot believe whatever we like. we must believe what the Bible tells us about Jesus.
The direct connection between believing the Bible and believing in Jesus Christ is stressed in the hymn: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
How do we know that Jesus loves us? - It's because "the Bible tells us so."Without the Bible, we would not know of Jesus.
This is the first thing which must be said about Christian faith. It means believing the Bible's teaching concerning Jesus Christ.
We are not at liberty to disregard the Bible and still claim to be Christians.
When we come to the Bible, we must come with the humble attitude which says, "I believe Your Word. I gladly receive the truth which it teaches concerning Your Son, my Saviour, Jesus Christ."
(ii) Faith as praise
Here, we might stress the importance of the shared life of God's people. as we worship together, we hear and receive the message of the Gospel.
Within the context of worship, we receive teaching from God's Word.Gathered together to offer praise to God, we learn what it means to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will worship Him, together His people. Where there is faith in Jesus Christ, there will also be a commitment to worshipping Him.
The importance of gathering together for worship may be seen when we ask two questions:
(a) How do we come to faith? (b) How do we grow in faith?
(a) How do we come to faith?
In one sense, God brings us to faith in many different ways.
Some have found Christ during their childhood. Some have come to Christ in later life.
Some have been broth in Christ. Some have come to faith only after a long struggle.
In another sense, it should be emphasized that God has one way of bringing us to faith: Jesus Christ - He is the Way. He is the true and living Way.
For all Christians, Jesus Christ is the focus of our faith.
Think back over your own life. How have you come to faith?
I'm sure that, for most of us, worship in the Lord's House has played an important part in our finding Jesus Christ. The Lord works in our lives as we gather together to worship Him.
(b) How do we grow in faith?
here, the emphasis on faith as praise becomes even stronger. We grow in faith as we learn to praise the Lord. Sunday-by-Sunday, we gather for worship. we hear the Word of the Lord together. we are strengthened in faith through our fellowship with God's people.
(iii) Faith as trust
Faith means trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. It means putting our trust in Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
We no longer trust in our own good works - our morality and our religion - to save us. We trust in Jesus to save us.
Looking to Jesus - the Saviour who died for us - we find that He is absolutely trustworthy, completely reliable and thoroughly dependable.
Trust in the Lord is something which grows stronger and stronger as we learn more of the Lord's faithful love for us.
We sometimes say, "I trusted the Lord on such-and-such a date so many years ago." Now, that may have been the beginning of the life of faith, but it is not the end of trusting the lord.
trusting Christ is a life-long experience. we come to trust Him more fully as we discover more of the sheer wonder of His great love for us.
(iv) Faith as confession
Faith as trust and faith as confession are vitally related to each other.
Confessing that 'Jesus is Lord' is one way of saying that Jesus is absolutely trustworthy. It is one way of saying that we can confidently put our trust in Jesus for salvation.
Confessing our faith is an essential part of having faith. Faith is not a purely private thing. If you have a real faith in Jesus Christ, you will want to share it with other people. You will want to let them know what the Lord has done for you.
Faith is not merely something which you believe with your mind. Real faith makes a difference. It will change your life. It will make you a different person.
Are you learning to confess Christ before men? Are you learning to say, with boldness, "I am not ashamed of he Gospel of Christ"?
This is a most important aspect of having faith in Jesus Christ. The faith which we have is a faith to be shared.
(v) Faith as rejoicing
Faith in Jesus Christ is not a kill-joy affair. Jesus made it clear that the people who are truly happy are the people who follow Him.
Following Jesus is the secret of happiness.
Faith does not only affect the mind. It involves a moving of the heart.
John Wesley described his conversion in this way: My heart was "strangely warmed."
John Calvin made the same point: "The Word of God is not received by faith if it flits about in the top of the brain without taking root in the depth of the heart."
The faith which rejoices in the Lord is not a superficial thing, which makes no difference to the way in which we face life's difficulties.
True faith brings lasting joy. True faith enables us to face life's problems - with joy.
When we feel like giving up, the joy of the Lord will be our strength. When everything seems to be getting on top of us, we must - by looking in faith to Jesus our Lord - rise above our circumstances and say, "I will rejoice, for Christ has made me glad."
May God grant that each of us will have that real faith, that living faith, which makes all the difference in our lives.
With such a faith, we will truly glorify the Lord.