There are two types of faith that fail to sustain us as we try to walk with God.
Blind faith. This is immediate acceptance of Christ without any skepticism or critical thinking. Blind faith is like jumping aboard a passenger ship without knowing the captain or the destination. Jesus warned followers against following him because of trends or emotions or signs. He urged them to count the costs before following him (Luke 14:25-23). Blind believers are like the rocky soil in the Parable of the Sower. At first, when they hear the word they “receive it with joy,” but they have no “root” and “in time of testing fall away” (Lk. 8:14).
Borrowed faith, or inherited faith. This is faith passively received from parents or some other trusted source. This version of faith, like blind faith, is hopelessly anemic because faith is not powerful unless it’s personal. Faith is not just the final conviction but the journey that it takes to get there. In other words, faith doesn’t just ask, “Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?” It also asks, “What has led you to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” If you only believe Jesus is the Son of God because someone you respect does, that belief will not have much meaning to you.
Real faith, sincere faith, takes time. When they were with Jesus, the disciples had “little faith” (Mt. 8:26). James and John were calling down fire from heaven to consume the Gentiles, and Peter was hacking off people’s ears. It took time with Jesus for them to develop real, saving faith. When Paul commends Timothy for his “sincere faith” that dwelt first in his grandmother and mother, we may make the mistake of thinking this is borrowed faith (2 Tim. 1:5). But Timothy did not merely inherit his faith. He developed it from the Scriptures, which he had studied from childhood (2 Tim. 3:15; cf. Rom. 10:17). Peter suggests that faith has to come through the cauldron of affliction before it can be described as “tested” and “genuine”: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7).
When we attempt to lead others to Christ, remember the slow realization of faith. Parents, this will be particularly difficult for you. You want your children to become Christians as soon as they hit that “age of accountability.” It doesn’t always happen that way. Have you shown them Jesus? Are they acquainted with the Scriptures? They must know God before they can believe in him. Sometimes it takes years of encouragement and teaching before some souls can be won to Christ.