What Does It Mean to Have Faith – And Why Is It So Important?

Whether this is your first or four-thousandth day as a Christian, or you aren’t sure you really want to be a Christian yet, you’ve probably heard of this thing Christians call “faith.” What you might not be sure of is why it’s such a big deal.

You’ll hear people talk about it when things are good: “I knew things would turn around if I just had faith!”

You’ll hear people recommend it when they’re not sure what to say: “I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time. Just have faith.”

And, when others seem unfazed by life’s obstacles, they might tell you it’s because they “have faith.”

But what does that mean?

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Faith is the result of believing the Gospel — the good news that Jesus died for our sin and made a way for us to be right with God and spend eternity in heaven. When we allow the reality of the Gospel to affect every part of our lives, it changes the way we think which changes how we behave.

Faith causes us to act on what we haven’t experienced yet, to believe promises in the Bible that haven’t been fulfilled yet, and to trust God when our situations haven’t changed yet.

3 Ways Faith Changes Your Life Practically

1. Faith in God gives you strength.

When I say strength, I don’t mean a physical strength to fight bullies. I mean the inner resolve to withstand turmoil.

Faith gives you strength: the inner resolve to withstand turmoil.

The writer of Psalm 138 says of God, “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.” When we are right with God, we never go into turmoil alone. We have the Creator of the Universe on our side.

For example, take David and the story of how he killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17 ). At the time, David was a shepherd boy, not a warrior. But when he saw Goliath mocking God’s people, David approached the king and asked to go down and fight. Picture the babysitter next door or the kid who delivers your papers telling the President, “Let me handle this one.”

David’s ability to not be shaken by Goliath’s size or insults was the result of David’s faith in God. David tells the king, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). David had faith that God would defeat the giant and deliver His people, so David to stood up to the king and then to the giant.

2. Faith in God gives you courage.

Courage and strength aren’t the same things, even though they are often seen together. Courage is the ability to do what scares us, to act on our beliefs despite threats of danger, to show strength in face of grief or pain. Courage, like strength, comes directly from our faith in God. Our confidence that heaven is real will directly affect the risks we’re willing to take. If death is the worst thing that can happen to someone, how do you hurt the person who believes there is a better life waiting after this one?

Esther is a good example of a woman whose faith made her courageous. She was in constant danger not because of what she was doing, but simply because of who she was — a Jew. At a politically tumultuous time, Esther navigated tricky waters well and delivered the Israelite’s from an evil man’s bitter vendetta. But it took courage to stay. Check out Esther 7 to see how she endured the schemes of her enemy and gained favor with the king to save her people.

3. Faith in God provides stability.

Have you ever met someone who seem unshakable? The coworker who takes a deep breath when the computer crashes instead of slamming her head on the desk. The mom who manages to keep her calm as her kids’ last minute requests pile up.

We all want to persevere through the day without melting down or throwing a tantrum (despite how we feel at times). Faith in God is what allows us to experience stability in the middle of instability. When life feels out of control, we take comfort in knowing that God is in control.

In the Bible, Daniel’s life provides several examples of stability in the face of instability. Daniel and many other Israelite’s were kidnapped and forced to join the Babylonian king’s service. This meant new food, new clothes, new language, new customs, and new everything. But even though Daniel was a hostage, he stayed true to what he knew about God. He wouldn’t eat the things that God had told the Israelite’s not to eat, and God blessed him for it (Daniel 1:1-8).

Daniel was eventually promoted into the king’s royal court, where some people didn’t like his worship of God instead of the king. Government officials tried to pin something on Daniel, but “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Daniel 6:4). They plotted against him, but Daniel stayed true to God, “just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10).

Faith can do a lot of things in your life if you let it. It will grow you and allow you to do things you never thought yourself capable of. It will turn you into a dreamer who really believes that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). What next step can you take in faith today?

3 Things Every New Christian Needs to Know

Maybe you came to church to pacify a co-worker or friend.

Maybe you came as a gift to your parents or a way to show interest in something that’s captivated your teen’s attention.

One way or another, you showed up to church and something in you changed. For the first time, you understood who Jesus is, what He did for you, and the life He wants for you. And when the pastor invited people to start a relationship with Jesus, you were in.

When you said yes to a relationship with Jesus, you said yes to eternity in heaven and a new life here on earth. It was all so exciting on Sunday, but then you wake up on Monday, and you face the same question new Christians have been wrestling with for decades:

What happens now?

3 Things Every New Christian Needs To Know

1. You are different now.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

When we ask Jesus into our lives, we are made new. You are not the person you used to be.

The addict? That’s the old you. In Jesus, you can overcome.

The cheater? Not who you are anymore. In Jesus, your relationship can be restored.

The liar? Dead. In Jesus, you have the ability to understand God’s truth and share it with others.

Jesus’ death paid the penalty for your past sin as well as all the sin you’ll commit today and in the future. He’s that powerful! And that same power is now in you. It’s called the Holy Spirit. It what guides us and gives us the ability to overcome sin.

You may not feel instantly stripped of all of your imperfections and insecurities. Part of learning to follow Jesus step by step is learning to hear from Jesus and do what He says.

As we follow Jesus’ example, our actions and desires begin to change. Instead of wanting the things our old selves would want and doing the things our old selves would do, we find ourselves wanting what Jesus wants and doing what Jesus would do.

2. You don’t have to figure it all out on your own.

So many of us have believed the lie that seeking others’ help and guidance is a sign of weakness. This is pride. We can only grow so much on our own.

Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us the opposite:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up on meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

At Blue Oaks, we believe you can’t do life alone. Jesus believes this, too! Jesus had 12 close friends and followers, called disciples. He spent every day with these guys, teaching them and sharing meals with them. His relationship with the disciples is the perfect example of what community looks like. If we really want to follow Jesus we must begin to build authentic relationships with other Christians.

3. Keep coming to church.

Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

The best way to know Jesus better is to learn more about who He is. Just as a teacher uses her teacher’s manual to instruct students, a pastor uses the Bible to teach Jesus’ followers about Him. As we grow in our understanding of who Jesus is and apply what we’re learning in everyday life, things start to change. We’ll find we have peace we didn’t know was possible and a more purposeful life than we ever dreamed.

Salvation is a starting point, not a destination. Just as relationships with other people grow over time, your relationship with Jesus grows over time as we follow Him. You don’t have to figure out how to be Christian all at once or all on your own. Keep coming to church, connect with other Christians, and trust that the Jesus who saved you will continue to guide you over time.

6 Common Questions About Baptism

1. What is baptism?

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. It’s a public declaration of how Jesus changed your life. Being baptized shows others that you’ve decided to follow Jesus, and allows them to celebrate this decision with you (Acts 16:31-34).

Baptism doesn’t save a person; it’s a symbol and celebration of salvation (1 Peter 3:21). The power that brought Jesus back to life is the same power Jesus uses to change our lives – and that’s worth getting excited about!

2. Why should I be baptized?

Jesus instructs us to be baptized and set the example by being baptized (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 1:9).

Obedience to Jesus shows we believe and follow Him. (1 John 2:3). Because Jesus went public about His love for us, we can go public about our love for Him. Being baptized shows that we turn away from a life of sin toward Jesus, the only one who can change us (Acts 2:38-41).

3. When’s the best time to be baptized?

For everyone who decides to follow Jesus, baptism is the next step. Anyone who commits his or her life to following Jesus is ready to be baptized (Acts 8:12).

4. Do you baptize children?

As parents, we can help point our children to Jesus, but they are the ones to decide if they will commit their lives to Him (Romans 10:9).

Any instance of baptism follows a person’s decision to trust Jesus for his or her salvation and commitment to follow Him (Acts 10:47-48). At Blue Oaks, we wait until children are old enough to express their own decision to follow Jesus and understand the meaning of baptism.

5. What’s the difference between immersing, sprinkling and other ways of baptizing?

Baptisms in the Bible were by immersion. The original word for baptism most often referred to being immersed or submerged in water. Jesus was baptized by being immersed in the water and rising out of it (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10).

Submersion in the water symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Being submersed underwater represents our death to sin and old way of life, and being raised out of the water is a picture of how Jesus raised us and gave us a fresh start in life (Romans 6:3-5).

6. Do I need to be baptized again?

If you haven’t been baptized by immersion since you decided to follow Jesus, we want to help you take your next step of being baptized. Once you’ve taken that step, there’s no need to be baptized again.

God never asks us to take a next step that isn’t good for us. He always gives us more than we deserve or can imagine, including the joy we receive from listening to Him and doing what He says.

Is baptism your next step? Sign up at our Baptism page to talk with someone about it.

Finding Peace With God

Do you know God loves you?

The Bible makes this clear in passages like John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 John 4:9-11.

And in spite of your sinfulness, He desires that you be reconciled back to Him (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19), so that you might enjoy a relationship with Him in this life and throughout eternity. He has made a way for this to happen through Jesus’ death on the cross in your place for your sins.

If you would like to have your sins forgiven, and receive the free gift (Romans 6:23) of everlasting life (John 6:47), we urge you to…

1. Acknowledge to God that you have sinned against Him.

The Bible makes it clear that all of us have sinned against God in a variety of ways. The Bible summarizes mankind’s condition with these words, “There is none righteous, no not one….all have sinned” (Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23). The apostle John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). The first step to experience God’s forgiveness and have your relationship restored with Him is to acknowledge (or confess) your sinfulness to Him.

2. Believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins.

Jesus paid the penalty for your sins. When He hung there on that cruel Roman cross, He was hanging there taking the punishment that you deserved for your sins. He was absorbing the judgment you deserved so that you could be forgiven. And He did that freely out of His great love for you. He rose from the grave three days later, appeared for forty days giving evidence to hundreds of people that He was alive, then ascended victoriously up into heaven (Acts 1). Today, He offers all who will put their faith in Him, forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9). Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Do you believe? Genuine faith in Jesus will result in something the Bible calls repentance (step 3).

3. Change direction. Turn away from your sinful way of life to follow Jesus.

The Bible says, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent [repent means to change direction, i.e., turn away from your sins], because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:30-31). If you are willing to repent, God will not only save you from eternity in Hell and set you on a path to Heaven, He will begin to change you and help you live a life that is pleasing to Him.

So what will it be? Do you want to know God? Do you want to experience the kind of life He designed for you to live? Do you want to have your sins forgiven? Do you want to spend eternity with God when you die? You can have your sins forgiven right now and begin experiencing a relationship with God today.

Pray something like this:

“God, I confess that I am a sinner. I realize that I need Your forgiveness. I believe that You, Jesus, paid the price for my sins on the cross. I believe that You rose again from the dead and want to have a relationship with me. Thank You. Come into my life. Forgive me of all my sins. Be my Lord, be my God. I want to turn away from my sins and begin to follow You. Help me to do that. Change me. Empower me with Your Holy Spirit to live my life for You. Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer with a sincere heart, you have begun a relationship with Jesus Christ, and God has forgiven you of your sins.

To grow in your relationship with God, we encourage you to…

  • Begin reading through the New Testament. The Old Testament will make more sense after you’ve become familiar with the New.
  • Begin praying. Simply put, talk to God. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you.
  • Begin going to a church that teaches through the Bible and where the people love to worship the Lord. If they have a new believer’s class, sign up to attend.
  • Make friends with other believers who can encourage you and be a blessing to you in your new relationship with Jesus. If you have a friend or a family member who is a Christian, call them and let them know of the decision you have made.

If you’ve made the decision to follow Jesus, or if you still have questions, we’d love to talk with you about it. Stop by one of our services this Sunday, call us at 925-600-1110, or send us an email. We want to help you take your next steps and learn how to follow Jesus.