Faith is the central focus of the Ministry of Jesus. By faith, Jesus meant an attitude of self-abandonment and trust, in which the person no longer relies on his strength but relies on the guidance and power of God.
There have been major theological disagreements regarding the concept of ‘faith’ after the Protestant Reformation in Christianity. But the issues have been mostly settled since 1999, with the “Joint Declaration regarding the Doctrine of Justification.”
The exact meaning of the term ‘faith’ differs in various Christian traditions. In spite of these variations, all Christians agree that faith in Jesus is the focus of Christianity and such a belief is essential to be a Christian.
The term faith is the translation of the Greek word, pi’stis. The pi’ stis group of words in New Testament can be used for meaning proof, belief, trust, commitment, loyalty, fidelity, and faithfulness.
In the tradition of Protestantism, faith means accepting and resting on only Christ for eternal life, sanctification and justification. According to this tradition, justification could be achieved by human efforts for doing good works. Thus, the action is as important as belief in this conception.
In the Roman Catholic Church, faith is a theological virtue, not attainable by self-effort but only through God’s grace. Faith can be summed up by a syllogism:
- The revelation of God is true
- But He has revealed the Holy Trinity that is a mystery
- Hence this mystery is true
In the Catholic Church, justification is granted first by baptism (not only by faith) and in the case of a mortal sin, from the sacrament of reconciliation. Baptism is regarded as the “sacrament of faith’.
Here are some references to faith in the New Testament:
Hebrew 11.1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
The term assurance is a translation for ancient papyrus documents, which indicate business contracts. The term conviction implies evidence for something. Christian faith does not mean credulity but means acting with trust and faithfulness.
John 3: 16: God loved the world so much that he gave the world his only begotten son such that whoever believes in him, shall not die but have eternal life.
Jesus’ call to believe in him is so that man should not perish for his sins but gain eternal life through faith in the cross of Jesus.
Hebrews 11:6: It is not possible to gratify God without faith. Who comes to Him must believe in him and seek him diligently.
This is a practical message for faith; we must endeavor greatly for the love of God.
John 6: 28-29: When someone asks Jesus, what he must do as per the will of God, He replies, “It is to believe in the One He has sent.”
James 2:22: “See what works his faith has achieved and by works his faith was made perfect?”
James 2: 26: “Just like the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”.
Both these statements emphasize that faith must be accompanied by good works to be real and potent.
Hebrews 11: God wants a relationship framed on earth and finished in heaven. For this, we must desire what he desires; we must trust his grace and build our house on solid rock.
This means that for a right relationship with God, we must build on the solid foundation of faith.
Luke 6:48: Our faith must be like a man digging deep in the earth and laid the foundation of his house on the rock. Even when the winds blow and storms come, his house will stand steady.
Romans 16: 18, James 1:26: The foundation of our faith must not be built on Church creeds, family traditions or opinions. The foundation must come from God (Acts 20: 32)
Hebrews 11: 6: A sound faith cannot be built overnight: it needs confidence, knowledge, humility, patience, work and time.
Romans 3: 22-23: Righteousness is given to all who believe through faith in Christ. There is no difference between Gentile and Jew.
Mathew 9: 28-29: To have faith in Jesus implies that one must trust him fully, simply, without reservation. Jesus performed miracles by healing all who believed in him. Once, before Jesus healed two blind men, he asked them if they believed he could cure them. They answered that they did, and he healed them ‘according to their faith.’
Romans 10:9-10, Corinthians 15: 3-4: When someone has faith in Jesus, it means he believes who Jesus is (Son of God) and what he has done (died on the cross for our sins). It is this faith in person and deeds of Jesus which saves us.
John 1-12: Without faith in Jesus, we remain in sin and cannot be accepted to the presence of God. With faith in Jesus we become children of God.
Acts 4:12: There is no other person, who can save us: Salvation is through Jesus alone.
Mark 9:23: According to Jesus-“If you believe, all things are possible for those who believe”.
This means that anything is possible for God in your life if you believe. This means faith comes from accepting the word of God.
Mathew 17: 20: Jesus said, “For sure, I say to you, if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you may say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing is impossible for you if you have faith.”
Mark 11:22: Jesus said, “Have faith in God. If one says to a mountain, ‘be removed and cast into the sea,’ it will happen, provided one believes and harbours no doubt in his heart. So I say to you, when you pray whatever things you ask, believe that you will get, and it will be given to you.”
Mathew 8:13: In another incident, a centurion begs Jesus to cure his sick servant. The centurion tells Jesus that he believes his servant will be healed only by a mere word of Jesus.
Jesus is impressed by his faith and says to him that it will be done as he has believed.
Just as the centurion believed, God granted what he wished. The reward for the quality of faith remains the same today: God does not change.