How should we understand faith? Faith can be, and often is, understood as a mental assent to a certain finite set of facts about Jesus Christ. This definition of faith is more than inadequate—it is a radical and dangerous distortion of biblical faith.

If faith is nothing more than a mental assent to a finite set of facts then that faith quickly stagnates and is in danger of dying altogether. If the exclusive means of “increasing our faith” is obtaining more biblical facts then our task is doomed from the start. Why? Because our faith may increase in its extent by our obtaining more facts but it CANNOT increase in degree. The mere acquisition of more facts, without an obedient reliance upon and inner transformation by the One who gives us the facts, makes us more knowledgeable (and possibly more spiritually arrogant) but it does not necessarily make us more faithful—more like Jesus Christ.

How does the Bible relate to personal faith? The words written on the pages of the Bible were never intended to take the place of the spiritual realities that they reveal. The Bible was written as a permanent record (a testimony to every generation) of the trustworthiness of God. The text was written so that our faith in God might reach forward to something else—to something that is NOT recorded in writing. Indeed, to something that CANNOT be recorded on the pages of any book.

How does Bible study relate to faith? If true faith is to be realized in our lives then our Bible study must catapult us into a living, thriving, growing, changing, adjusting relationship with the Blessed God who inspired the Bible. And that personal relationship is significantly realized by us subjectively within the quiet, humble, and peaceful affections of our souls—not exclusively in the cerebral machinations of our thought processes.

How do we grow in our faith? In order to grow in faith we must begin with an increase in knowledge, there is no argument there; however, growing in faithfulness toward God—being transformed into the image of His Son—depends primarily upon the deepening of the heart’s affections for God. Thus, the most important act of faith is not mentally assenting to the veracity of certain proclaimed facts but, rather, the most important act of faith is entering into and clearly exhibiting a trusting relationship with God.

Of course, the challenge of this approach to faith is that it involves not a finite set of facts to know but, rather, a mysterious and unknowable life to enter—by faith.