Abram believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6
Abraham grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20–21
I cannot remember a time in my life that I did not believe in Jesus Christ. It was implicit in my worldview. It was part of my heart and life. As I grew up that belief took on deeper meaning and more far-reaching implications. I began to realize that believing in Jesus meant trusting him, following him, obeying him, and loving him.
The fullness of faith is two-fold. The first and most important is that we are brought to an awareness that God is good. He can be trusted. His will is salutary. His plans are for our benefit. His ways are right, good, and beneficial.
In one sense our move to impute good motives to God – inspired by his goodness, love, grace, and kindness toward us, to be sure – is the first move of faith. God inspires that faith. The Holy Spirit creates it in our hearts. Our move is by God’s power. It has little to do with us, and everything to do with recognizing God’s inherent goodness. God honors those who believe he is good.
There is, however, a danger in such an understanding of faith, for it puts us as judge over God. It could be thought of as saying that we have considered all the evidence, weighed the various explanations, taken into account all the variables and determined that God is good. We have judged him. This is not good. We are not the judge of God. We cannot put God in the dock.
From Wikipedia: God in the Dock is a collection of previously unpublished essays and speeches from C. S. Lewis, collected from many sources after his death. Its title implies “God on Trial”[a] and the title is based on an analogy made by Lewis suggesting that modern human beings, rather than seeing themselves as standing before God in judgement, prefer to place God on trial while acting as his judge.
Faith does not sit in judgment on God, but recognizes and trusts the goodness of God, his love, forgiveness, mercy, and justice. Faith is humble. Faith receives. Faith acknowledges God’s goodness. In all this God is pleased.
The second part of faith is how God honors faith. He reckons faith to us as righteousness. By faith we receive God’s gift of justification. We are forgiven. We are restored to a right relationship with Him. Faith receives the blessings of God. Faith saves.
Faith also trusts God, therefore faith compels us to follow God. It leads our hearts toward godly goals. It inspires sacrifice. It moves us to forgive others. It points us to godly ways of obedience, godliness, and service to others.
But it all starts with God. God is the good One. He is righteous. He saves. He forgives. He will judge the hearts and lives of all people.
Our belief about God does not change the character, will, nature, or disposition of God toward us. He loves us perfectly and completely. But our belief about God will change the trajectory of our eternity, and shape the choices we make from moment to moment. For if we believe God we will trust him. We will repent. We will follow where he leads.
And when our faith falters, we will look to him for restoration, hope, and mercy when we turn to him in repentance. That’s what it means to believe.