What does “one faith” mean in Ephesians 4:5? Why is faith so important?

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The Bible says there is “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5). Is it really that simple? How can we know if we have it? Why is faith so important?


The text you cite lists faith among seven ones that help define our unity in Christ: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. All of these can be known and embraced at a basic level. Each also invites us to dig deep, reach high, and explore widely in the rich and inexhaustible storehouses of our Father’s Word and world.

Speaking simply, “one faith” may point to the empty-handed and truehearted response of the humble soul casting itself on the mercy of God through Jesus Christ, bringing us heaven’s favor and the Spirit’s comfort. No other response promises so rich a result as this.

But that’s not all. “One faith” also refers to all the beliefs and practices Christians take from the Word and Spirit of God. This bird’s-eye view of faith is seen in Jude 3, where we are urged to stoutly defend the faith once delivered to the saints. In this broad sense also, there is only one faith.

Back in Ephesians 4, Paul goes on to write “till we all come to the unity of the faith” (v. 13), conceding that Christians had not yet come to perfect unity in all aspects, intricacies, and nuances of the one faith. Nor have we in 2016.

Let’s grasp the importance of faith here and now: When we have it, God counts us righteous; His work is revealed in us; we are justified from our sins; salvation comes to us and to our household; we truly live; all things are possible to us; and we have victory over the world, the flesh, and the Devil (Genesis 15:6; Mark 9:23; John 6:28, 29; Acts 16:31; Romans 1:16, 17; 5:1; Ephesians 6:16; Philippians 3:9; 1 John 5:4).

Faith in Christ is so important to God that He has made it the single door by which we may enter into His favor and be saved. Without faith, everything is sin to us, and there is no way we can please God (Romans 14:23; Hebrews 11:6).

How do we know if we truly believe? It is good to ask, because not everything that goes under the heading of faith is faith indeed. A true and living faith in God is sufficient for salvation for sure, but there is a false and dead faith that saves no one. Many will say, “Lord, Lord” in that day but be turned away because Jesus never knew them.

What is the difference between saving faith and false faith? The real kind includes 1) acceptance of the basic truths of the gospel — faith’s mental component; 2) trust in the person of Christ as Savior to forgive — faith’s spiritual component; and 3) choice to follow and obey Jesus as Lord — faith’s volitional (or decisive) component. Three components; only one faith.

If we don’t have it, here’s how we can get it: Hear God’s voice. He speaks in His written Word, in the natural world, and through His people. If the seeds of belief don’t sprout and grow, we may humble ourselves by asking God to reveal Himself and give us the gift of faith. Many can tell how that prayer has been answered for them. 

— Elder Calvin Burrell

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    Calvin Burrell
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    Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and former director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.