What is faith in Jesus? What does it mean to have faith in Jesus?
In order to understand what it means to have faith in Jesus, we must first understand the nature of faith itself. Faith contains three elements: knowledge, assent, and trust.
Firstly, faith contains the element of knowledge. Faith must have content. There must be something or someone to have faith in. It is popular to say things like “have faith” or “believe” but these sayings are ambiguous, and even meaningless, until we define in what or whom we have faith. To have faith in Jesus, we must first have some knowledge about who He is. In order to have faith in Jesus we must know that He is the Christ, the promised Messiah, who came to earth to save His people from their sins (John 1:41; Matthew 1:21). We must believe that Jesus is God’s only Son (John 3:16) who took on human flesh (John 1:14), lived a life of perfect loving obedience to God the Father (John 4:34; Hebrews 4:15), willingly sacrificed His life by dying on the cross for our sins (Philippians 2:8), rose triumphantly from the grave after three days (Matthew 12:40) and is now seated in heaven at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33) from whence He will return to judge the world (Acts 1:11; John 5:28–29) and to bring to glory all who eagerly await His coming (Colossians 3:4; Hebrews 9:28). Our knowledge of Jesus need not be exhaustive, nor can it be (Colossians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 13:9), in order for us to believe in Him. However, we do need to know some essential truths about who He is and what He has done (John 20:31).
Secondly, faith contains the element of assent. To assent means to agree that the knowledge we have is true. Now, we may be tempted to stop here and think we have arrived at a complete definition of faith. However, having knowledge about who Jesus is and even assenting to that knowledge does not mean a person has faith IN Jesus. For example, the Devil and demons know who Jesus is and even acknowledge who He is (Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:24; James 2:19) but they do not believe IN Him, which brings us to the final element.
Thirdly, faith contains the element of trust. To have faith in Jesus means to trust Him. To have faith in Jesus means to rely on Him and resign oneself to Him. Those who have faith in Jesus rely on Him as Savior (John 4:42; Titus 3:4) and resign themselves to Him as Lord (Romans 10:9). To trust in Jesus means to believe that His death was accepted by God as payment for your guilt and sin (Colossians 2:14), that His perfect life and righteousness has been credited to you on the basis of your faith in Him (Romans 3:21–22). To trust in Jesus is to believe that His teachings and promises are true and to resign ourselves to follow Him and live for Him (Matthew 10:37–39; 16:24–25; Romans 12:1; Philippians 1:21).
A helpful analogy which sheds light on the difference between the second element of faith (assent) and the third element (trust) is as follows. If I were to show you a chair and ask you if you believe it would hold you, you may say you believe it would. You have assented. If I then ask you to sit in it and you do, you are trusting. You see the difference. Having faith in Jesus means not only agreeing with the fact that He can save, but trusting in Him that He both has and will save you.
There are a couple things to remember about faith in Jesus that are vital to a humble recognition of God’s work of grace in us and to a proper attitude of gratitude to Jesus Christ for who He is and what He has done. First, believing in Christ is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8; Acts 13:48) and not a reason for us to boast (1 Corinthians 4:7), as if we are better or smarter than others (1 Corinthians 1:26). If we indeed have faith in Jesus it is because God has given us the faith to believe. Secondly, it is Christ Himself, and not faith, that is the grounds for our salvation. Faith is merely the instrument through which we receive Jesus. Faith is akin to the tube which transports blood during a blood transfusion. It is the blood, not the tube, that saves the person’s life. However, without the tube, the person would not receive the life-saving blood. Comparatively speaking, it is the blood of Jesus that saves us from our morbid sinful state (Ephesians 2:13; Romans 3:25; Colossians 1:20). Yet, faith is the instrument or means through which we receive Jesus and all His life-giving benefits (Romans 5:1–2; Galatians 2:20; John 3:15).
If you have not yet put your trust in Jesus Christ and would like to, you can express your faith in Him by praying something like the following. The words of this prayer are not what will save you; this is simply a means of expressing your trust in Him.
“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and that apart from you I am deserving of eternal death. I believe that Jesus Christ is your Son, that He lived a perfect life, that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin, and that He rose again victorious over sin and death. I want to put my faith in Jesus today. I rely on Him alone for salvation. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for forgiving me and bringing me into relationship with you. Help me to grow closer to you and to live for you.”
If you have put your faith in Jesus today because of what you’ve read here, please click the “I have accepted Christ” button below. We would love to help you as you begin your journey of trusting in Jesus.