Five dimensions to faith

David Pawson in his excellent The Normal Christian Birth highlights five different aspects of what it means to have faith in Christ. All faith is a gift from God but for many it is not well-exercised

Faith is historical

There is a salvation history that we see recorded in the Bible that says God has intervened in history. Christianity is based on an acceptance that certain events actually happened (Jesus died and was raised to life) and the signifiance of those events (this shows that Jesus was the Son of God and has atoned for our sins).

faith is personal

This is the difference between believing that something happened and believing in something or in the Christian’s case, someone. As Pawson says,

Christian faith is believing in a single person rather than a series of prepositions. It is not just believing that Jesus died again; it is believing in the Jesus who died and rose again.

faith is verbal

The Christian faith is confessional in the sense that we own it with our words. Romans 10:9-10 is of course widely quoted but it is important to note to whom we profess our faith.

First of all we confess it to Jesus. One day every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil 2:9-11), so we acknowledge this freely before the day where we will acknowledge it out of necessity.

Secondly, we confess it to others that Jesus is our Lord. As much as faith is personal, it is also public.

faith is practical

This is the essential message of the letter of James, that faith that rests merely in words is no faith at all (James 2:18-24). It is a consistent message of Jesus and the apostles (e.g. Mt 5:16, Eph 2:9-10) that faith in Christ means putting words into action, to not be simply hearers of the word but doers, obedient in word and deed.

I can say I love running all I like but if you know I never actually run, then my words will ring hollow. Faith in Christ will be seen by who we become and what we do.

faith is continual

While there is a genuine theological discussion over the nature of perseverance, the Bible is insistent that perseverance is essential. Assurance comes from present not past faith. We live by faith (Rom 1:17, Gal 2:20), and the example we have is to run the race, to keep going in faith (2 Tim 4:7) and to not give up. These warnings and encouragements are not casual but vital. We live by faith.

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