It Takes Faith
Summary: The faith of the world vs. the faith of the Bible, is the faith the same?
Ephesians 2:8-9 – for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.
We have been saved by the Grace of God. We have not been saved through works, that is, we cannot earn salvation. God by grace extends salvation through faith.
If salvation requires faith, then we certainly need to understand what faith is.
People use the term “Faith” all the time. It is used in many different ways:
Blind Faith, Keep the Faith, Leap of Faith, the Faith, You Gotta Have Faith, Act of Faith, in Bad Faith, in Good Faith, to Break Faith, Article of Faith, Have Faith In, Faith that Can Move Mountains, Faith as a Mustard Seed, Faith Healer…?????
The Collins American Dictionary defines faith as follows:
“unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence”
While there are other definitions for this word, it is my belief that this is largely how society uses the term faith.
Here are a few examples of the type of Faith the Collins Dictionary Defines:
I have Faith Michael Jordan is going to return to play in the NBA.
I have Faith that Obama has the best interest of the United States at heart.
I have Faith the world was created by the Big Bang.
I have Faith Elvis is Alive.
I have faith I am going to win the Lottery.
I have faith the Cleveland Browns are going to win the Superbowl this year. (The browns have never been to a Superbowl, the odds are 75/1)
Worldly Faith can even have a religious context:
My son Sterling once hurt his finger when he was young, he immediately prayed about it, looked at his finger and said… “hey!”
A personal friend of mine once had faith he could miraculously heal.
I suggest these examples of faith differ from the Biblical faith we see in scripture. As a Christian, the most common verse I hear quoted in regard to Biblical Faith is Romans 10:17 – “For Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” This tells us there is an origination for our faith in God and it is His Word. Many would conclude from this verse that faith cannot exist unless an individual is exposed to the Bible or His Words directly. Consider Romans 1:18-20. Starting in vs. 19 – “… that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” If mankind can realize there is a God based on the things which God has created, then they can have faith. But where is the Word? John 1:1-3. In this verse, we see that through creation man is presented the evident attributes of God through the Word. Thus, in the Bible and creation, the Word is present and Faith can be gained.
At this point we can see the origin of faith within an individual, but let’s go back to the Collins Dictionary definition… “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence”.
Is the belief the Bible speaks about unquestioning? In our main text, Ephesians 2:8-9, the Ephesians were said to be saved through Faith. Their salvation was freedom from the sins they had committed in their life and the freedom to know that future sins would also be washed away by Christ’s once and for all sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10), if they continued in repentance (Revelation 2:5). However, those who have faith can fall away. Hebrews 6:4-6:6 speaks of those who had miraculous gifts (which only come to those who are obedient to God) and then fell away. They clearly had belief, but evidently questioned it. Paul warns the Christians in Hebrews 4:11 – “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Some will cry “Lord, Lord did we not…”, but in falling away they must have questioned their belief. The apostles themselves, workers of the miraculous, viewers of the wonderous things Jesus did, had faltering faith. Jesus referenced them in Matthew 14:31 – “Ye of Little faith” and they asked Jesus to increase their faith in Luke 17:5. So can belief be questioned? Absolutely, the Bible shows it can. The secular definition of faith falls short.
At this point, it is important to look at the Bible definition of Faith. It is found in Hebrews 11:1 – Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
To understand this further, look at the next two verses.
Hebrews 11:2-3 – For therein the elders had witness borne to them. By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear.
These next two verses confirm what we stated about Romans 1. Faith can come from creation. Faith is being confident in the existence of God, heaven, the angels, the heavenly host, and God’s promises because of the evidence which has been given. Where does Faith come from today? – The Word in the form of the Bible and creation. The evidence is found there! The evidence is our proof or proving of what the Bible says. Thus, through the Bible we totally refute Collins Dictionary definition of faith. Faith can be questioning and it absolutely involves evidence or proof.
The Bible reaffirms our conclusions about evidence in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
It is unfortunate that the word “reproof” has been written in English as “reproof”. It does not mean to correct; we already have correction in this verse. The word is the same Greek word as evidence in Hebrews 11:1. This verse tells us the Bible can make man complete – mature – through teaching, evidence, correction, and instruction in righteousness.
Biblical faith, comes from the Word, and is built on evidence which increases our faith. This type of faith is not the same as worldly faith. All of the examples of worldly faith that we started this article with do not have any evidence to support them. There is no evidence that Michael Jordan will ever be a player in the NBA again. There is no evidence the Cleveland Browns will win the superbowl this year… or ever…. My friend had no evidence he could miraculously heal and scripture actually refutes the claim that anyone can today.
The world today is full of people who believe many things as to whether or not there is a God or many gods, how everything came into existence, and whether or not there is an inspired book such as the Bible that can be believed. People join great varieties of religions just to be disillusioned. They become Christians with faith that is not certain of the Bible. Many Christians even go there whole lives without reading the Bible. The truth is, if you cannot believe in the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, you will struggle with the assurance of the hope of what we cannot see. You will doubt God, you will doubt if He exists, you will doubt in the coming of Jesus, and you will doubt in heaven. Until I truly sat down with the Bible, questioning, and searching, I was not convicted as a Christian should be. I have strong faith because of the evidence the Bible provides. My goal is to help folks see the evidence provided by the Word, so they can believe completely in the Bible, so they can be assured that God is real, his promises are real, and He has a plan for our life.
Before closing, there are some additional attributes of Faith that must be established. Consider Romans 1:8:
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
Faith is visible. How? The Bible presents many covenants. However, there are two major ones. The Law of Moses was established on Mt. Sinai. It was given to the Israelites to bring them to Christ – Galatians 3:23-27. Upon the death of Christ, a new covenant came – the law of liberty. The new covenant released the Jews from the Law of Moses, being fulfilled by Christ. Thus, Galatians 2:15-16 establishes that man is not made innocent or given his freedom from sin by doing the works of the Law of Moses. Paul is very specific in the book of Galatians that anyone who follows the Law of Moses was beholden to keep it all. Unfortunately, the sins under that law could never be taken away (Hebrews 10:4). What does this have to do with visible Faith? Examine these two verses:
Romans 3:28 – We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Romans 4:5 – But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.
In both of these verses, the context is doing the works of the Law of Moses. The scripture is clear that faith in doing the works of the Law of Moses does not justify, or make innocent, the individual. It is the individual who comes to Christ whose faith is seen as doing right. Now, before examining the next verse, it needs to be pointed out that the previous verses are often explained by saying faith does not require doing what God commands. That would be an interpretation out of context. James 2:17-26. This is how faith is visible. Faith is visible in the works of obedience to the New Covenant. One is justified when he puts on Christ, but once he has done so, he is beholden to the New Covenant. In following the New Covenant, his faith is visible.
The final attribute of Faith I want to mention is seen in the following verses:
Romans 14:22-23 – The faith which thou hast, have thou to thyself before God. Happy is he that judgeth not himself in that which he approveth. But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
The context is weak faith. The issue is eating meat when one’s conscience is not comfortable with it. Why would this be? Perhaps the meat had been sacrificed to idols. Perhaps the meat was something that was noted as unclean in the Law of Moses and after a life of avoiding the meat, a Jewish Christian could not bring himself to eat what God now said was clean. Why could he not? Because he had not heard and understood the Word of God such that he could eat knowing fully it was God’s will. If the man could not eat with full confidence, then it would be sin. The attribute to be drawn from this is Faith takes its direction from the Bible. If you are not positive your actions are authorized by God, do not do them. The simple verse for this understanding is Colossians 3:17 – “And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
It takes faith to be a Christian. The faith of the Christian is a Biblical Faith; that is, it is based on a Bible definition and not the world’s. Biblical Faith today comes from the Bible and creation. Men may question their faith as it grows. However, faith is built on evidence and with that we can learn to trust in the Bible and our God. Faith is visible and accompanied by our obedient actions under the New Covenant of Christ. If our actions are not from the Word, they are not actions of Faith and are sinful, actions against God.