There are several passages of scripture which refer to the initial saving faith in a very personal way, often using examples drawn from personal relationships.
John for example in John 1:12 says ‘to all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gave the power to become children of God.’ The term here is much the same as would be used as receiving a guest to stay at your home.
C.H. Spurgeon ‘Saving faith is an immediate relation to Christ, accepting,receiving, resting upon Him alone,for justification, sanctification, and eternal life by virtue of God’s grace.’
Most of us know John 3:16, but what many might not know is that in this verse John uses a very surprising phrase. He does not write ‘whoever believes him’ but ‘whoever believes in him’. The Greek phrase pisteuo eis auton could also be translated as ‘believe into him’ with the sense of trust or confidence that rests in Jesus as a person. Leo Morris says, ‘Faith, for John, is an activity which takes men right out of themselves and makes them one with Christ. He understand that New Testament faith is not just an intellectual assent, but includes personal trust. Such a express is not know outside of the New Testament in secular Greek, but was suited to express the personal trust in Christ involved with saving faith.
Jesus speaks of ‘coming to him’ in several passages of the Bible (John 6:37, John 7:37 and Matthew 11:28-30, just to name a few). In these passages we have the picture of coming to Jesus and asking for acceptance, water, rest, instruction all of which creates a very personal picture of what is involved in saving faith. The word ‘come’ has a warm and friendly sound to it. In the gospel God invites sinner to the provision of salvation. The king who sent out the invitation for his friends to come to the wedding feast illustrates the gospel proclamation. (Matthew 44:2, 11:28 and Revelations 22:17).
The writer to the Hebrews asks us to think of Jesus alive in heaven waiting to receive us (Hebrews 7:25), Jesus is pictured here as in many other passages as alive and always able to help those who come to him.
The Bible also speaks about looking, Isaiah 45:22, ‘Look to me, and be saves, all you ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other’. Another classical illustration is the one Jesus uses to refer to himself in John 3:14-15, taken from Numbers 21:8-9, in the story of the brazen serpent that healed the Israelites after been bitten by poisonous snakes.
Eating and drinking, God is represented in scripture as the source of all good and pleasure (psalm 16:11). Jesus taught his follows that He was the bread of life (John 6:35), the antitype of manna that God sent from Heaven to feed the Israelites. Just as bread nourishes the body, sp Jesus brings eternal life (John 6:56). Jesus also invites all those who are spiritual thirsty to come to him and drink (John 7:37), there reminding us that he is the fountain of living water (Rev 22:17).
All these show the need for a personal trust in a living person. Belief in facts alone is not enough, we can’t have a relationship with facts they are not personal, but we can have a relationship with a personal lord and saviour called Jesus.