Misconceptions About Faith
Faith is essential to pleasing God (Hebrews 11:6). Unfortunately, faith is often misunderstood or misrepresented. Consider a few misconceptions about it.
Faith is a blind leap. Mark Twain famously said, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Not all would go that far, yet it is common to hear of “the leap of faith.” Biblical faith, however, is anything but a blind leap. It is a conviction about and a trust in facts substantiated by evidence. “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).
Faith comes mysteriously. Some say you just have it. Doubtless that describes many people’s beliefs, but it is not the basis of Biblical faith. Others say God imparts faith to us directly, but they never can explain how God could be displeased with those who don’t have it because He never gave it to them. The Bible simply explains, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
One faith is as good as another. The Bible uses the term faith both of what we believe (often called “the faith”) and our belief itself. Certainly not all levels of believing are equal: there is worthless faith, dead faith, shipwrecked faith, etc. Likewise, not everything believed is equally valid either. The Bible says there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). It cautions against falling away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1) or wandering away from it (1 Timothy 6:10).
We are saved by faith only. A prominent Protestant creed says, “Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” In contrast, the Bible says, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 3:24). Working faith is what Paul called “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26).
We are saved at the point of faith. Modern preachers often say we are saved the moment we believe. The Apostle Peter, who preached by the Holy Spirit's inspiration, said otherwise. Many of his hearers on the day of Pentecost believed when he preached the gospel to them—“they were pierced to the heart.” Something more was needed. He commanded them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38a). Three thousand did, and they were added to Christ (v. 41).