Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. – 1 John 5:1 ESV
1 John 5:1-5
Faith is an interesting subject. For many of us it is an all-too-familiar word that has lost much of its meaning. We use it easily in conversation, but would be hard-pressed to explain exactly what it is, if asked. We tend to use the word, faith, interchangeably with the words, belief and trust. We see faith referred to throughout the Scriptures. Paul writes, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17 ESV). The disciples asked of Jesus, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5 ESV). Paul told the Corinthian believers, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV). Jesus told us to “have faith in God” (Mark 11:22 ESV). And John has told us that faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). As followers of Christ, we are sometimes referred to as people of faith. But there are people of other faiths. Faith is not exclusive or unique to Christianity. People live by faith each and every day. Some put their faith in the political process. The majority of us place faith in the banking system to keep our money secure. The Greek word for faith most often used in the New Testament is pistis, and it means, “conviction of the truth of anything, belief.” It refers to belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence). There are those who place their confidence or trust in themselves. Others are convicted that their particular concept of the truth is the right one, whether they believe in many gods or no god at all. Even atheists have faith that God does not exist. Faith is not what sets us apart as Christians. It is the object of our faith. Our faith is in Christ. Our belief, our conviction of the truth is solely based on Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. That is what sets us apart. Paul wrote, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, 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 10:8-9 ESV). It was the same message Paul and Silas had given the Philippian jailer. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 ESV). Standing before the Jewish high priest and religious leaders, Peter declared, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 ESV). Jesus is the object of our faith. Jesus is the source of our salvation. It is in Him we place our trust, hope, belief, and confidence. And when we do, we are born of God. We experience a spiritual transformation that is the work of God. Our faith does not change us, God does. It is not the depth or quality of our faith that brings about our spiritual rebirth. It is the object of our faith.
A big factor when it comes to placing our faith in Christ is that it requires that we turn from trusting in something else. When Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV), He was declaring that there was no other way by which men could be made right with God. No other religious system, belief, claim, or teaching was going to work. No matter how much faith you placed in it or how hard you believed about it. Part of what it means to repent is to “to change one’s mind for better.” It is not just to turn away from your sins, but it is to change your thinking about everything you have known to be true. It is to have a change of mind regarding your own righteousness. It is to turn from whatever it is you have been trusting in and placing your confidence, hope and belief in Jesus Christ alone. When we place our trust in Christ, we are changed. God accepts us as His own and gives us a new nature. He places His Spirit within us. And He loves us as His own children. But our faith is not to stop there. Our belief and trust in Jesus is to last a lifetime, better yet, an eternity. It is our ongoing faith in Jesus that overcomes the world. We will constantly be tempted to place our trust in other things. Circumstances will compel us to turn away from Jesus and start placing our faith in something or someone else. But the Christian life is to be lived by faith in Christ alone. Paul warned the Galatian believers, “How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3 NLT). We are saved by faith. We are sanctified by faith. It is a spiritual endeavor, accomplished by the power of God. I must constantly remind myself that my faith must remain focused on Jesus as the Son of God and my source of salvation. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. But only if that faith is place in Jesus Christ. Any other faith in any other thing will prove disappointing in the end.