3. Faith obeys and works, but never earns.
The Scripture speaks of faith working (James 2:22), the “obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5), and even uses “believe” and “obey” interchangeably (see Hebrews 3:19,4:6). But faith cannot earn any more than someone who is given money could boast of their economic standing. It is a grace-based venture and therefore its very nature excludes boasting. We are His workmanship, not our own.
4. Faith trusts and believes.
But maybe the most important action associated with faith is the work of believing in Jesus (John 6:29). It is a looking away from self (and everything else) and an embracing of God. It is exchanging self-reliance and dependency for God-reliance and dependency. I think this is what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the kingdom belonging to the “poor in spirit.”
5. The power of faith is not in the act of believing but the object of belief.
While there may be some residual benefits to believing, faith has no real power in and of itself. Believing in something does not make it so. Four hundred and fifty believers in Baal called on him to perform and nothing happened (1 Kings 18). They danced, prophesied, shouted Baal’s name, and even mutilated themselves on account of their faith but there was no answer from Baal. Although their faith was genuine the object of their faith was impotent.
It cannot be emphasized too much that what makes the Christian’s faith special is Christ! The faith of some is stronger or more mature than the faith of others. But all believe in Christ and He taught that if faith was genuine, even if it was as tiny as a mustard seed, it had unlimited power because it connected them to One with unlimited power (Matthew 17:20)!
6. We come into relationship with God when by faith we repent, confess and are baptized.
These are the meaningful specifics that faith prompts. See Acts 17:30-31; Romans 10:9-10; and Acts 22:16. It’s a real mistake, to get to a passage like Acts 16:31ff and divorce it from its context by interjecting our own definition of faith. If we allow the text to speak, we’ll see that after Paul tells the jailer to “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” the next three verses tell us what Paul had in mind by the phrase. In v. 32-34, the jailer hears the word of the Lord, washes the wounds of Paul and Silas (repentance), and is baptized. After this, Luke writes that he rejoiced because he had believed in the Lord. But since his rejoicing took place after he had repented and was baptized, it should be clear that believing in the Lord included repenting and being baptized and not just “accepting Christ into your heart” or saying some similar type of prayer. That’s not what the jailer did!
7. Faith is the reaching hand of the flawed man. I don’t know who said that but it brings to mind Peter walking toward Jesus, sinking down into the water, and then being rescued by Him. Whatever else is true, we’re flawed right down to the bone. Even our response to God is flawed (but still pleasing to Him). None but the Christ ever possessed a “perfect” faith. Yet when we reach up to Him, He responds. Don’t let your flaws keep you from reaching up to Him!