The Christian religion is based on faith. Faith in God; belief in Christ; faithful living, etc. So many lessons and sermons encourage people to have faith, keep on believing but many times neglect to explain how one is to have or cultivate faith. In other words, how do you go from not believing to actually having faith? Well there are three natural steps that take a person from zero to faith as a Christian.
Step #1 - Believing as true the facts and conclusions that have been presented to you in the Bible.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- Hebrews 11:6
That is what a Bible study is all about. Reading and processing the information about God and how He has worked throughout history to bring Jesus to earth as a man!
It is understanding and making a decision on whether you accept as true the teachings of the Bible about Jesus' life, death, and resurrection and His offer of forgiveness and eternal life to all of His disciples.
At some point after having studied about any topic from politics or art, a person makes a decision concerning the truth of a matter. Well it is the same with Bible study. At some point you have to make up your mind to accept as true or not the claims that the Bible makes about Jesus
How when it comes to salvation we do not have to understand and accept every single idea contained in the Bible… this would be a life-long pursuit. No, for salvation purposes, the main question to answer is, "do I believe as true that Jesus is the Son of God."
Peter the Apostle came to this point when Jesus asked him directly, "Who do you say that I am?" And Peter had to make up his mind and decide whether he accepted or rejected the evidence before him about Jesus. He answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." (Matthew 16:16)
And so, like Peter, we take our first step of faith by accepting as true the claims of the Bible in general but specifically about Jesus Christ.
Step #2 – Act on Your Faith
In the epistle of James, the writer clearly explains the relationship between step one and two in the process of faith. He says,
But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
- James 2:18
A little later he says,
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
- James 2:26
When it comes to Christianity what counts is not just what you believe to be true, what counts is what you actually do because of what you believe as true, And this is the case at every stage of Christian life. At the start, Jesus calls on those who believe in Him to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). With time He draws His disciples into service and sacrifice in His name (Acts 13:1). And so faith grows from being an intellectual exercise into a very practical spiritual lifestyle.
Step #3 – Trusting God
In Biblical languages the English term "faith" can, depending on the context, mean several things:
- Faith as in accepting something as true.
- i.e. I have faith that Jesus resurrected from the dead.
- Faith as a body of religious teaching.
- i.e. What faith do you belong to?"
- Faith as trust.
- i.e. I have faith in the sacrifice of Christ to pay for all of my sins.
And so to build on our initial decision to believe as true and act upon what the Bible says, we need to add the element of trust that what God has said will be realized. It is one thing to believe that Jesus is the Son of God but it is quite another to trust that He will provide for our needs each day according to His promise in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25 where He says, "Do not be anxious for your life…" Learning to trust God is the daily exercise of our faith that builds the confidence, joy, and peace that the Apostle Paul says "…surpasses understanding." (Philippians 4:7)
In the end, from zero to faith requires us to believe as true, act upon, and trust what the Bible says about Jesus and what Jesus promises all of those who put their faith in Him.