5 Levels of Christian Faith
by Kenneth Samples
We often use the word “faith” to describe the core of someone’s beliefs—but people of differing religions use the term in very different ways. This has challenged me to more carefully probe the distinctive features of the word “faith” from the perspective of historical Christianity. Faith is much more profound than simply recounting our personal conversion story. Rather, Christian faith entails at least five parts, each building on top of the next.
Level 1: Christian faith is based on historical events.
At its foundation, Christianity is based on evidence. First Corinthians 15 recounts the critical core of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Without Jesus’ resurrection (a historical event), there is no Christianity and no hope for a future in heaven (a theological assertion). If Jesus is nothing more than an embellished legend, then the hope of heaven is little more than a wish. In order for Christianity to be true, it must include a belief in certain historical facts and a belief that the Bible preserves an accurate account of those events. This establishes the identity of Jesus as the resurrected Savior. In this sense, theology can’t be separated from history. Rather, theology depends on history.
Level 2: Christian faith is personal.
Believing “in” Jesus is very different than believing “that” Jesus existed. Someone can believe that the historical events surrounding the life, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are true, but as it says in James 2:19, “Even the demons believe that [God exists]—and shudder.” Saving faith takes that belief to the next level. It means believing in the reality that Jesus’ work on the cross actually applies to you. It’s believing that your sins are forgiven as a result of Jesus’ historic work.
A critical component to this aspect of faith is that each person must put their personal trust in Jesus…
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