[This article is also available in Urdu.]
Fundamental to being a Christian is having faith in Jesus Christ. Real faith is not just an intellectual acceptance of the basic beliefs of Christianity. Real faith in Jesus renews and transforms us. The ability to have faith in Jesus Christ is a gracious gift from God (Eph 2:8) which each Christian receives and expresses in differing ways. However genuine faith will move our emotions, engage our mind, involve making decisions, and inspire our actions.
Faith and Emotions
Genuine faith will capture our emotions and move us. When we think about how God continually, completely, and lovingly forgives our sins and failures, and how he has rescued us from the domain of darkness and death, and has welcomed us into his Kingdom (Col 1:12-14), these amazing thoughts should elicit an emotional response from us.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit moving in our hearts and lives – healing, restoring, comforting and guiding – often produces emotions, emotions which we shouldn’t shy away from.
Emotions, such as deep, heartfelt gratitude, joy and wonder, will help us draw close to God in worship and devotion.
But faith is not just in our “heart”.
Faith and Intellect
The Christian faith is not illogical; it can be viewed objectively and rationally. When we consider the cosmos, humanity, spirituality, and salvation through the teachings of scripture we can come to a coherent, intelligent, and vitally relevant worldview.
Mature faith should be able to stand up to close scrutiny and intellectual evaluation. We should be able to think critically about what the Bible says and evaluate doctrine by its light. The breadth and depth of biblically based theology is an inexhaustible feast for both the mind and soul.
Good, sound theology will help us to live as effective Christians in the world, and help us to embrace all that God has to offer.
But faith is not just in our “head”.
Faith and Decisions
I often say that the Christian life is a journey of discoveries, decisions and determination. The first step to becoming a Christian and receiving salvation usually involves responding to new found faith by making the decision to entrust our lives to Jesus Christ. From then on we should be continually responding to God’s leading by making faith-prompted decisions.
When we discover or learn something new about God and his Kingdom, or something new about ourselves, we can choose to embrace this discovery and adjust our thoughts and actions accordingly, or we may decide to ignore it or reject it. We have the ability to exercise our free will and make decisions one way or the other.
True faith in Jesus will have a profound influence on our decisions and our determination to progress and persevere in the Christian faith. It should cause us to make godly decisions and plans.
But faith is not just in our “will”.
Faith in Action
Authentic faith will have a practical expression. Christians are Kingdom agents and, as such, we should be ministering aspects of God’s Kingdom wherever we are. Healing, hope, justice, mercy, love and salvation: God wants to partner with us and use us to bring his Kingdom blessings on earth now.
True faith will practically benefit the weak and defenseless (James 2:17). This, according to James, is an important expression of pure and true religion (James 1:27a). In fact, James wrote that the evidence of genuine, saving faith is in our obedient and compassionate actions.
If we have put our faith in Jesus, we will be motivated to practically help those in need: those in our family, in our church, in our community and further afield.
But faith is not just in our “hands”.
Authentic faith in Jesus is all-encompassing and should touch and infiltrate every part of a person. Does your faith in Jesus inspire and engage your emotions, your intellect, your decisions and your actions?
 The Greek word for faith in the New Testament (pistis) can also be translated as: trust, belief, assurance, conviction, confidence, loyalty, faithfulness and doctrine. A very short article on the subject of faith and belief here.
 An essay entitled: “James 2:14-26: Saving Faith in Action” here.
 Saving faith involves entrusting your entire life to Jesus – serving him and loving him with your whole self. Are you willing to entrust your whole self to Jesus? It is a big ask! Often it is a slow process to fully let go of some areas of our lives and entrust them to God. However Jesus is patient and gracious and he will help you if you are willing to make the decision to live for him completely. Allow him to strengthen and energise your faith – your emotions, your thoughts, your decisions and your actions.
© 22nd of March, 2010; Margaret Mowczko
More articles on Faith here.