The word is thrown around quite a bit.
“Where is she in the faith?"
“Does he have faith?"
“I have faith."
For most religious people, ‘faith’ is important. But why?
“[We] know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
"For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:28).
So we are justified by faith. Faith is the mechanism God uses to declare us righteous (i.e. acceptable) before him. That’s important because only those who are righteous will enjoy the presence of God eternally.
So what is ‘faith?'
The Reformers, men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and many others, taught that faith is:
Knowledge = grasping the facts of the gospel
Assent = being convinced the gospel is true
Trust = entrusting the soul’s safety to Christ on the basis of knowledge and assent
This is a good synthesis of the Bible’s teaching on faith. There is clearly a fraudulent faith that includes ‘knowledge,' but neither ‘assent’ nor ‘trust’ (James 2:19). Additionally, it is impossible to be convinced of something you know very little or nothing about (i.e. assent without knowledge) and neither is it possible to entrust your soul to something you aren’t even convinced is true (i.e. trust without assent). All three, knowledge, assent, and trust, must go together for it to be saving faith.
So do you have saving faith?