Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | August 20, 2008

What is Faith?

I heard a pastor on T.V. say that faith is “reaching out in the dark for something – you know not what – hoping to bring it to be.” I think he meant that by faith we can bring what we desire into reality.

Frankly, it sounds like magic to me. In magical thinking we believe that we can change the nature of reality by what we think, say, or do. So, there’s no rabbit in the hat and then when we say the magic words a rabbit appears. Or, there is no present under the Christmas tree and if we believe strongly enough in Santa Claus then he will be real and deliver the present.

Magical thinking in Christianity means that we think that we are not children of the Father and then when we believe, say, or do the right thing we change ourselves from not being children to being adopted. In this thinking it’s not Jesus  who makes us children of the Father, it is our own faith.

To get a Christ-centered definition of faith we have to look at it through the lens of who Jesus is. He is the one through whom humanity is adopted into the life of the Trinity, the one in whom the human race has been recreated and restored, and the final Adam who has reversed the fall of the human race (Eph. 1:5, Col. 1:20, Rom. 5:18). The Father has raised us from the dead and seated us at his right hand in and through Jesus (Eph. 2:6).

We human beings haven’t made ourselves the Father’s children, Jesus has done it. In the light of this good news about Jesus I would define faith in this way:

Believing the truth that when the Son of God became human he adopted us all into the relationship of love he shares with the Father and the Spirit.

Faith means that we believe that God is who he says he is and we are who he says we are.



  1. Well said Jonathan.

    As Barth reminds us, Jesus is the subject and content of our faith. In believing, we are joining our “puny” human trust to the boundless and perfect trust of Jesus in his Father, through the Spirit; and in the Father’s perfect plan that includes us all. And, Jesus, in himself, is the plan. Thus he is the object, subject and logic of our believing/trusting (faith). It’s all about him and our inclusion in him.

    “Lord, I believe (in you); help my unbelief.” And he does, by believing for us, with us and in us.

  2. Great point Jonathan and Ted,
    This weekend my message is about our faithfulness being the faith of Jesus in us. I’ll be using a quote from Thomas Torrance in “The Mediation of Christ”:
    “The New Testament concept of faith is not different from that (referring to God’s faithfulness to Israel in Hosea), although owing to the Incarnation it has an intensely personalized character. We must think of Jesus as stepping into the relation between the faithfulness of God and the faithfulness of human beings by grounding it in the incarnate medium of his own faithfulness so that it answers perfectly to the divine faithfulness. THUS JESUS STEPS INTO THE ACTUAL SITUATION WHERE WE ARE SUMMONED TO HAVE FAITH IN GOD, TO BELIEVE AND TRUST IN HIM, AND HE ACTS IN OUR PLACE AND IN OUR STEAD FROM WITHIN THE DEPTS OF OUR FAITHFULNESS AND PROVIDES US FREELY WITH A FAITHFULNESS IN WHICH WE MAY SHARE.” (Emphasis mine.)

    What a glorious relief that my faithfulness doesn’t depend on my strength but the strength and faithfulness of Jesus in me!!

  3. I am inspired by all these thoughts on faith!

    1.) Real Faith points us to Jesus, because all is of Jesus, in whom we are in eternal union, and,

    2.) Jesus, Himself, is our Faith, and

    3.) It is Jesus, Himself, and Jesus’ actual Faith being shared with us in an intensely personal way!

    You Go – My Christ-centered Bro’s!!! That Good News will encourage the world!!!

  4. Thanks for the great comments, guys. Pointing us to Jesus’ faith for us and on our behalf is exactly what needed to be added to this discussion!

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