There’s a sense in which we all live by faith. We drink water out of a faucet or water bottle without actually seeing where it came from. We grocery shop by pulling things off the shelves and eating them without seeing where they were grown or how they were processed. We dine at restaurants without interviewing the chef and questioning his or her ingredient choices in the items we order. We take prescription medicines having never seen the laboratories where they were produced. We even allow surgeons to inject us with drugs, put us to sleep, and operate on our bodies. All of these things involve faith at some level, and we don’t really give them much thought—except for the knife-wielding surgeon.
But this natural faith that we exercise daily is radically different from the faith described in the Bible. Natural faith comes by way of natural birth. Spiritual faith or saving faith comes by way of spiritual birth, which is a work of the Holy Spirit and a gift of God— “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) The Westminster Confession of Faith describes it this way: “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts. . .” The divines used the term “the grace of faith” to emphasis that our faith is a gift, not something we can merit or earn by our good works or in any other way.
Although the accusation is often made, saving faith isn’t blind, and it bears no resemblance to wishful thinking. Saving faith as put forth in Scripture is absolute certainty even in the face of what looks to us like complete impossibility. The reason we can be absolutely certain is because the object of our faith is God Himself.
Think about the Christian life. Our feet are standing squarely on the unseen. We’ve never seen God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, all the characters that populate Scripture, or even the original manuscripts! Yet, God speaks through His Word, we believe because the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of our hearts, and we are set on a trajectory of faith that works itself out in love and obedience.
Of course, our faith isn’t static. God graciously gives us the means of grace to strengthen our faith because life is war. We struggle, we grow weak, we experience dry periods, we face doubts, and we battle sin to the grave. But we do all these things with Scripture in hand and heart, trusting in the promises of the Bible because the One who speaks them to us is God Himself, the God who spoke the whole universe into being, who reigns over everything, who is incomprehensible, who possess infinite knowledge, who is unchanging in His being, who is Truth and the source of all that is true, who is all-wise, who is the source of all good, and who, acting in love, sent His Son into the world to save a people for Himself to the praise of His glorious grace.