Summary: Faith is a word with many meanings. What does it mean to live by faith? What is saving faith? Faith is a seed planted in us. From that seed, your faith will grow if you put your full trust in the LORD.
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Faith is a word with many meanings.
It can mean faithfulness: Matthew 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
It can mean absolute trust, as shown by some of the people who came to Jesus for healing:
Luke 7:2-10 2 And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick..
It can mean confident hope: Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen..
A BARREN BELIEF THAT DOESN’T SHOW GOOD WORKS
or, as James points out, it can even mean a barren belief that does not result in good works:
James 2:14-26 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
PAUL’S MEANING OF SAVING FAITH
What does Paul mean when, in Romans, he speaks of saving faith?
We must be very careful to understand faith as Paul uses the word, because he ties faith so closely to salvation.
NOT SOMETHING WE DO TO EARN SALVATION
It is not something we must do in order to earn salvation, if that were true, then faith would be just one more work, and Paul clearly states that human works can never save us:
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
FAITH IS A GIFT
Instead, faith is a gift God gives us because he is saving us:
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: