What is childlike faith? Does the Bible instruct us to have childlike faith?
The Bible never uses the words "childlike faith," but faith is central to the Christian life. In fact, faith is essential to life as a Christian. Faith is both necessary and a gift. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and we are saved by grace, through faith—and that faith doesn't come from ourselves, it is given to us by God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is not something that we produce within ourselves. Like an essential piece of armor, we are fitted with faith so that we are protected from Satan's warfare against us (Ephesians 6:16).
Faith is a very humble quality, which is perhaps why it is associated with childlikeness. Jesus' disciples were concerned with which of them was the greatest, or the closest to Him, or the most important. But Jesus responded to their debate by taking a small child to His side and saying that the least among them was the greatest (Luke 9:46-48). He told them that they were to "become like children" (Matthew 18:3) in order to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus was pointing out the truth that a child is completely dependent on adults for safety, sustenance, and knowledge. Similarly, the faithful person depends on God in a way that is absolutely dependent. The faith God looks for is humble, teachable, and trusting—like a child. In this way, the Christian is to have childlike faith. Jesus emphasized this kind of faith when he said "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it" (Mark 10:14-15).
Childlike faith looks outside itself for salvation. Salvation is a gift; man does not pay for or contribute to his salvation—it is entirely of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 8:1; Romans 5:1). Just as a child has to use his father's money to pay for a Christmas gift he plans to give his father, we depend on God's provision for everything, even the good works we do in His name (Ephesians 2:10). The world sometimes misunderstands the idea of childlike faith, thinking that Christians are childlike because they believe in myths and fairytales. But this is not the Bible's meaning when it compares us to children. Instead, childlike faith is a metaphor for trust, dependence and love, and an encouragement to ask for what we need (Matthew 7:11).
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