Have you ever had that moment when someone asks you to explain something you are very familiar with, but find yourself stumbling to offer a good explanation? This can happen when we are used to talking with others familiar with concepts and terms and are then asked to explain those concepts and terms by someone who is unfamiliar with them. At that point, we are required to think about things at a different level and offer explanation beyond simple shorthand.
This is especially true when it comes to theology, especially when so many rich biblical terms such as faith, hope, and love are common and misused. I was reading a book by Tim Chester recently where he offered an explanation of the term “faith” that I thought was helpful. He wrote:
Talk of faith alone can be a bit misleading. I watched a television program recently in which the presenter kept talking about faith: “I don’t have faith but admire people who do have faith.” “Faith can be a great comfort.” He had badly missed the point. Faith is not a “thing” you have, find, keep, or lose. It’s a relational bond. It’s trust in something else. And it’s that something else that matters. Faith in the tooth fairy is not much use because—spoiler alert—tooth fairies don’t exist. Before you step onto a bridge, you need to trust that it will take your weight. That’s faith. When the Reformers emphasized faith alone, it wasn’t because faith itself is virtuous, somehow earning merit with God. It was because faith connects us to Christ. Faith is letting go of self-confidence (what Paul calls “the flesh”) and entrusting yourself entirely to Christ. So the Reformation emphasis on faith alone was a way of directing the focus onto Christ and his finished work…Faith alone connects us to Christ, and Christ alone saves. (Reforming Joy, pgs. 34-5. emphasis original)
Here are two other posts from the archives on faith: