Question: According to today’s understanding of all people, as indicated in any dictionary today, to “believe” means to have any mental thought about anything or to simply trust anything. Is this what the Lord intends for men to do, and only this saves them? Is saving faith believing?
Response: It is clear from Scripture that when the Lord is talking about faith and belief, He is not speaking of having “any mental thought about anything or to simply trust anything.” Rather, very simply, faith must have an object. In Mark:11:22 Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” One has faith in something or someone. Faith is absolute, total trust. There is no one and nothing in the universe that deserves our complete 100-percent faith except God.
Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines faith “as a belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to his will for one’s life.” It goes on to say that belief is placing one’s trust in God’s truth. A person who “believes” takes God at His Word, trusting Him for salvation.
Furthermore, the Lord knows our weakness and in His interaction with men, the Lord Jesus often asked, “Do you believe?” In Mark:9:24 we see an example of how the grace of God helps the one who “believes” but is only too aware of the weakness of that belief. When the father of the possessed child was asked if he believed that the Lord could deliver the child, he “...cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Hebrews:11:11 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is to the Lord we look for the “evidence of things not seen.”
It’s difficult to conceive of anything more important in the Christian life than faith. Certainly, the dictionary defines faith as “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.” Yet, it also states that faith is “belief in and devotion to God.” Scripture, as you have pointed out, tells us much more about faith and its importance. It is so important that the Bible states that without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews:11:6). According to this biblical statement, faith is belief in the one, true God, whom we have not yet seen.
Consequently, when we come to Christ in “faith,” we are “believing” what He is able to do, and that is saving faith. As we grow in Christ, however, we have every opportunity for our faith to grow. Again, we experience and see His answers to prayer and when we find ourselves in another troubling circumstance, we will have a “track record” on how He can and will answer. Consequently, our faith and our belief in Christ grows even stronger.