Faith is all over the Bible.
Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
James 2:17-18 – 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
What the Bible means with the word “faith” at any given point can be a little tricky to understand. If you’re looking purely on the basis of the word “faith” in just the three passages quoted above, you may have a difficult time defining what faith is and how it works. Because, these passages almost seem contradictory.
Some people think that faith is a human achievement. If I have enough, then I will be saved. But – in this definition, faith is all on me believing enough. Because of our sin, this is just simply not possible. And, frankly, what is enough faith?
Luther saw in the Scriptures a distinction between a saving/passive faith (relationship with God) and an active faith (relationship with the world and other people).
With God – I can do nothing to earn my salvation. My salvation is given to me freely by GRACE (a gift) and I receive that gift through FAITH. This faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit to give me the capacity to believe and trust that what Jesus accomplished on the cross is actually true.
Yet – faith is also a very active thing. If I am saved and I have faith that I am saved, then I will be active in this world loving and serving my neighbors.
But, why would I be active in the world?
NOT to earn my salvation with God. NOT to gain a higher standing with God.
INSTEAD, I love and serve my neighbors simply because my neighbors need me to love them.