What Is Faith?
Our “job” is to get really, really good at believing in the grace that is being offered us by our loving Father. If someone wants to give you a present, you still have to trust enough to receive it. Believing leads to trusting and trusting leads to receiving. That is the way of faith which opens wide the door for the Lord’s salvation to stream into our life.
The Many Kinds of Faith
What is faith? Faith is not monolithic. Just as there is grace (what God does all the time) and there is "saving grace" (what God does specifically to help us become saved), there is faith (all manner of trust and belief) and "saving faith" (the ability to believe in what Jesus has done). Saving faith is different from other kinds of faith.
One huge difference is that saving faith is a once and for all gift to you of faith in Christ. It does not have to be grown. It is full and complete upon arrival! You would have been just as fully saved all the way to heaven, had you died the first day you were born again, as you will be saved even after a long season of fruitful service.
Once you "know that you know that you know" that Jesus is both Savior and Lord, you have received saving faith and there is no need to add anything to it in terms of your entry into heaven. Jesus did all the work to get you there and this is all that is needed for you to pass through the gates. Even so, you will certainly want to grow a powerful faith-confidence that you do indeed have saving faith. Sounds like a paradox right?
Let's put it this way: Even a brand new, untested and untried Christian has "saving faith" in that they now have put their belief in what Jesus has done for them and God has given them an assurance that Jesus is indeed their Savior and Lord. If they die tonight, they go straight to heaven! They have turned to God; they have opened their heart to God; they have trusted in Jesus to be their Savior; and God is fully satisfied.
You Will Be Tested On This
When the tests and trials come, however, each new Christian discovers how hard it is to keep believing with confidence and assurance that God is still fully committed to saving them. They discover instead the weakness of their faith and this usually causes them to question if they are really saved, or if they have sufficient faith to be saved. What we all have to learn is that it is not our faith that saves us. Faith is not the work that qualifies us for heaven. It is simply the way that God has given for us to receive the work He has done.
This is why having saving faith and having confidence that we actually have saving faith are two separate issues. If you "know that you know that Jesus is Savior and Lord" you have saving faith! But are you always confident that faith in Christ alone is enough to save you? Do you always have peace that you are still being saved by God, no matter how badly you may be doing at the moment? Can you "reach through" the trial and take fresh hope and joy from confidence that "at least I'm going to heaven", despite your poor showing in the trial? These are the issues of growing confidence that the saving faith you've received is all you really need to get you to heaven. Please see "How can I be sure I'm saved?" coming up next.
Try to keep in mind that we do not work in order to "get" God to save us for that is His unchanging desire. We "work" at believing His Word, at knowing Him and at trusting Him in order to more fully experience the joy of our salvation. Keeping our faith connection in good working order enables us to receive the benefits of what God desires to do for us by His grace. This is just the first kind of faith-confidence that we need to cultivate. There are a lot of other kinds of faith to grow!
What is faith?
There is faith as intellectual belief in the truths God reveals to your mind through His Word.
There is faith as trust in your heart that allows you to surrender fully to God, casting everything you care about and everyone you love upon Him to manage.
There is faith as loyalty to Jesus that enables you to follow Him even when He seems to be going in the exact opposite direction from your desires and even when the way is hard, dark and slippery. These will take a lifetime of cultivation!
Beyond this there is faith for healing, faith for miracles, faith for answers to prayer, faith for risky steps of obedience. These are not exactly separate categories, just handy ways of thinking and talking about the various ways faith operates and the areas of cultivation we may need to attend to.
The Place of Faith
Let's go over our God-given "formula" for salvation summarized for us in Paul's letter to the Ephesians:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 WEB
"By faith" means that our part includes believing in and trusting to what God says He is doing and has done. This opens the way for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, helping us want to love God and to follow His ways. We don't "work" our way to heaven; we "trust" our way there to the work God does through Jesus and through the Holy Spirit.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Father, I am so grateful for the faith that You are giving me in the life, death and resurrection of Your Son Jesus Christ. In times like these I can feel it rising within me! Help me now to take that faith and spread it over all the situations in my life.
Jesus, you are the Living Word. Grow within me a great faith in all of the truths of Your written Word. Help me feed on the scriptures and on Your faithfulness so that my faith can grow ever stronger. May You also grow my faith as I seek to become faithful at trusting and obeying You.
Holy Spirit, I ask You to strengthen me to recognize, accept and believe all of the truths that You will be showing me in the Word, through my conscience and through my conversations with others. Convict and convince me of truth that I may become a person of true convictions.
More to Explore of God’s Live-Saving “Formula”
What is salvation? Salvation is what we need. Everyone needs to get to heaven for instance. Often that is the first thing on a person’s mind when they go looking for God. But there is so much more to salvation than getting to heaven. In any area of your life where you need help, God wants to come to your rescue. He provides everything necessary for saving you by His grace through your faith.
What is grace? Grace is the part God plays in saving us. It’s definitely the lead role. Without His mercy, His help, His wisdom, His guidance, His comfort, His provision we’d be back right where we started, trying to rescue our life by our own means. Happily, our Father is an outrageous giver. You don’t have to earn or deserve His saving help: You just have to become more adept at receiving it.
On to the Next Question!
How can I be sure I'm saved? It should come as no surprise that doubt and unbelief are enemies of the life of faith. God has overcome your unbelief—now you know who Jesus is—but you will soon have to fight off your doubts in order to keep your confidence in Him flying high. Make sure that you know how to stay sure…
Scriptures and Foot Notes
 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2
Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." Galatians 3:11-12
 This is the way of all human gift giving as well: One desires freely to give; the other merely trusts enough to receive what is given.
 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
 Grow a strong “faith-grip” on grace: For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. Hebrews 3:14
 Hearing and believing scripture grows faith: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
 Paul gives us the perfect picture of a surrendered and submitted heart: I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 AMP
 Real growth comes through hard trials: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 (See also: Hebrews 6:11-12; 1 Peter 1:6-9)
 As an example of a faith that needs to be cultivated to be effective: And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:22-24 What is faith? It is confidence in, trust in, and reliance upon God and His Word!