The first thing one needs in order to be saved is to hear the gospel. If one has an honest heart, the outgrowth of hearing the word of God will produce belief. Paul said in Romans 10:17, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." It is quite obvious that if we want to be saved, we must have faith? But what is faith? What is belief? What type of faith saves us? We will answer these questions in this article.

What is faith? Thayer defines faith as, "Conviction of the truth of anything, belief." It means firm persuasion. In the case of religion, it means complete trust in God and His word. A small child one time defined the word based upon the letters in the word, "Forsaking-All-I-Trust-Him". Hebrews 11 is known as the chapter of faith, and rightly so. It gives example after example of what faith does in the life of a believer. Verse one describes faith saying, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." In other words, it is that which causes us to realize that we will receive what we hope to, and have confidence that they are real, even though we have not seen these things. With an understanding of what faith is, we can clearly see why it is important that we have it. For, without it, what would be the purpose of religion?

What is belief? Thayer defines the word, "To think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, to place confidence in". It means that we accept something as true even though we have not seen it. In comparing the words faith and believe, you will note their similarity. That is because they are both derivatives of the same Greek root word (pistis). The difference is usually in the tense. Usually, in the English versions, if the word is a noun it is translated "faith", and if it is a verb it is translated "believe" Understanding this is important as we look at the many different views of salvation that are in the religious world.

In order to be saved, one must have faith, or believe. Heb.11:1 tells us, "without faith, it is impossible to please Him...". John 3:16 says, "...that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus taught, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, ..." (Mark. 16:16). Eph. 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith...". That faith is needed is generally accepted by the religious world.

The question that needs to be asked is, what type of faith saves us? Some teach that faith only saves. That is, all that you have to do to be saved is believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This is contrary to a number of passages such as Mark 16:16; Acts. 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:20-21, etc. It is also contrary to the Biblical concept of faith. While many times the words believe and faith refer simply to the act of accepting something as true (Mk.16:16; Matt. 9:22; Jas. 2:24), at other times they can refer to everything associated with salvation or even one’s system of beliefs (Ac. 16:31; Rom. 1:17;Jude 3). The question is how do we determine which is which? The answer is by the context in which the word is found.

A study of saving faith and belief in the Bible indicates that it always involves action (or works, if you will). Consider Hebrews 11. Every single person whose faith is praised in that chapter OBEYED the commands of God. When one teaches salvation by faith only, even though that person may try to serve God, he of necessity implies that it is not important to obey what God says, and that is a very risky way to deal with the eternity of your soul. Thus we see that the type of salvation that saves is a working faith, NOT merely the act of believing.

Many passages are used to teach faith only such as Eph. 2:8,9; Ac. 16:31; the thief on the cross; John 3:16; etc. In our next article we will examine some of these passages





Copyright 2003 [Rose Avenue Church of Christ]. All rights reserved