True faith is entirely different from strong desire. Things as they obtain are what God wants them to be. We cannot have them any other way. We must have true knowledge of how things are the way they are. The Bible tells us how and we need Biblical knowledge to put things right between us and God. To believe the Biblical solution of man's problems is true faith. The Bible tells us about creation, the fall of man, and the whole plan of salvation. It is when all this information is properly received by man that one is said to have true faith. Thus the Bible speaks something more than strong desire when it speaks of faith.
'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen', Hebrews 11:1. So again I ask what is true faith? True faith is a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed in His Word. At the same time it is the firm confidence that God has granted forgiveness of my sins, given me everlasting righteousness and salvation, out of grace and for the sake of Christ. The Holy Spirit works this faith in my heart as I listen to the Gospel. (John 17:3; Hebrews 4:16; 10:10; 11:1-3; Romans 4:18-21; James 2:19; Galatians 2:20; Acts 16:14; 1 Corinthians 1:21).
Faith is produced in me as I become enlightened in the revelation of God in the Bible. Of the creation of the world, the Bible says 'By faith we understand that the world was framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.' So God tells me in His word the factual data about creation. I do not project this out of my own imagination. No, God inject it into me by His revelation. Paul says, 'So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,' (Romans10:17).
The question will therefore arise, why then do some people believe when they hear the message of the Bible, while others do not? The other is that two things are essential for faith. The first thing is God's revelation to us in the Bible. We have already seen why this is so. The second thing is a capacity in us to receive this revelation. But this capacity is not present in us by nature. That is why Jesus said, 'Unless one is born again he cannot see or enter the kingdom of God.' (John 3:3, 5). This is because 'the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,' (1 Corinthians 2:14). Being born again is comparable to some of the miracles that Christ performed. He caused the blind to see and the dead to come alive. The man who is born again understands the Gospel. The Gospel comes from the outside and the Holy Spirit works internally for the person to embrace the Gospel. It is the Holy Spirit who changes man from the inside and one who was hostile to the Gospel will now embrace it.
A Christian understands that reality is two. There is the being of a Creator and there is the being of a creature. For the creature to function aright there has to be a healthy relationship between the Creator and the creature. A Christian is someone who realises that man has fallen from grace, and that Jesus has brought man back to grace. Such kind of thinking will lead man to salvation. One will trust in Christ and repent of his sins.
True faith – the faith that saves – always includes knowledge, conviction and trust. One question that is often asked is, How much do I need to know and believe in order to be saved? The answer in principle is this I have to believe the basic facts about Biblical Christology and Anthropology. The thief on the cross did not learn much, but he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and he knew that he was a sinner and that was enough for him to be with Christ in paradise that day. I end by quoting C.H. Spurgeon 'At the same time, faith whenever it exists, is in every case, without exception, the gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Never yet did a man believe in Jesus with the faith here intended except the holy Spirit led him to do so. He has wrought all our works in us, and our faith too. Faith is in every believer 'the gift of God.'