“You gotta have faith,” people say. But what does that mean? Is any faith good faith?
“Believe in yourself and all that you are,” wrote one positive thinker a century ago. “Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” As nice as that may sound, it falls to pieces when it crashes into reality. We need a faith in something bigger than ourselves.
God promised Abram he would have a multitude of descendants (Gen. 15:4–5), so he faced a huge obstacle—he was old and childless. When he and Sarah got tired of waiting for God to make good on His promise, they tried to overcome that obstacle on their own. As a result, they fractured their family and created a lot of unnecessary dissension (see Gen. 16 and 21:8–21).
Nothing Abraham did in his own strength worked. But ultimately he became known as a man of tremendous faith. Paul wrote of him, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Rom. 4:18). This faith, said Paul, “was credited to him as righteousness” (v. 22).
Abraham’s faith was in something far bigger than himself—the one and only God. It’s the object of our faith that makes all the difference.
Lord, I want a strong faith in You, not just faith in myself or my abilities or in others. I am nothing without You.
Our faith is good if it’s in the right Person.
The central theme of Romans is that humanity cannot save itself and that God justifies the sinner by grace through faith in Jesus alone (Rom. 1:16–17). Paul reveals that all people—Jews and Gentiles—are sinners. All have sinned. All stand condemned before our holy God (3:23). Sinners are saved, not by obeying the law, but by God’s actions of justifying the sinner through faith in Jesus (3:22–26). We are justified (declared righteous and made right with God) by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide) and in Christ alone (solus Christus).