“Without faith it is impossible to please Him (God)” (Hebrews 11:6a NKJV)
Without question one of the most misunderstood essentials of the historic Christian faith is “faith”. There is a wide chasm between our contemporary understanding of the word and the Biblical meaning of it. What is most commonly passed off as faith by TV preachers, motivational speakers, and sadly, many pastors, is nothing more than “positive thinking”, or as one creative fellow puts it “possibility thinking”. I strongly believe in positive thinking, and especially so for Christians, but it is not faith.
The understanding of many, even church leaders and preachers, is that faith is synomonous with our contemporary understanding of “belief”, or “believing”. They often have the same root meaning in the Bible but in regard to salvation are far different than what is commonly understood in 2007.
There is an element of “belief” in the concept, or truth of Biblical faith. In both belief and faith the mind must acquire some facts. The intellect is engaged when one hears, or reads, or sees a set of facts, and those facts are recorded in the brain. By the use of this human mechanism that we all share I am convinced that George Washington was the first President of the
United States. I “believe” the facts as recorded in history. That sort of “belief” requires no trust; I never have to rely on those facts, nor am I motivated to act in any way because of the fact that I have given mental assent to them. Biblical faith is not only intellectual but also emotional and volitional. Unless we come to the place where our hearts embrace the facts of the gospel and our wills are predisposed to act on what we believe, we do not have faith.
Every sane human can acquire and believe facts. But God gives faith to a selected few (“few there be that find it” are Jesus’ words about the narrow way of salvation in Matthew 7). To those who hear the Word of God, not only with the ear, but with their hearts, faith is given. (Romans 10) One the one hand the brain is the center of activity and on the other the heart (innermost being, or human spirit) is the part of us that embraces the truth of God given by grace. It is this faith, or belief, that Christ could “see”. (Mark 2 & Luke 5) At the moment of saving faith, there is no demonstration needed to convince God that the sinner has placed his faith in the record God has given of His Son. God knows our hearts.
The sight of mere belief is short sighted and fickle at best and depends entirely on what can be observed naturally. Faith sees the unseen, is sure and certain, and is supernatural. Faith gives substance to our hope and makes the unseen things of God hard evidence. Faith allows a born again believer to gladly accept God as the Creator of everything. Those without faith have problems with the concept of a being able to make matter out of nothing by speaking a word. The eyes of faith allowed Abraham to look over the eons of time and see a city not built with human hands and upon that evidence only he left his home land to follow God. (Hebrews 11)
When I have a candidate ready to be baptized and I ask the question “Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?” have I done due diligence to be reasonably sure that person has faith in God? I don’t believe so. The devils believe the facts of the gospel but they do not believe with “the heart”.
In the coming weeks I will show that out of the spring of faith flows all obedience to God including repentance, confession, baptism and every other act of submission to a Holy God and His Christ.
Grace and Peace,
I heard a wonderful sermon this morning on Faith being the victory based on IJohn 5: 4-5. This is a great follow up to that sermon. I look forward to hearing more.
Belief… demons can do it, so there must be more. The recognition that there is a God or that Jesus is his son isn’t it. Belief isn’t faith.
I hear the phrase, “faithful attendance” meaning every time the doors are open, and it is worn like a badge of honor. To me it is similar to every game on the schedule… it makes you a loyal fan. What it doesn’t do is make you a player. God doesn’t want fans, he wants players. Attendance isn’t faith.
One of my biggest beefs is the constant preaching about morality, and how it is like Godliness. Huh? You don’t even have to acknowledge that there is a God and you can still live a good moral life. Morality isn’t faith.
All of those things, and many others are outward signs of our faith, but they grow from the foundation that says, “I am a sinner and am unworthy in God’s sight. His son, Jesus the Christ came to be the sacrifice to allow me to have access to God once again. And I CHOOSE to let him rule my life, lead my life, and be my life.”
I look forward to the coming weeks of articles that show the faith as it flows out of obedience to God. I like the way that it is put by Steven Chapman… “God is god, and I am not.”
More walk, less talk…
Additionally, in the ‘walking on the water’ incident, preachers and teachers focus on the wrong thing too often here. Peter gets too much blame and not enough credit for at least stepping out. When Peter said, “If it’s you…” and then Jesus said, “Come on…”, I can just imagine the rest of the guys in the boat…
Matthew: “Hey, John, you gonna go?”
John: “Yeah right, I was born in the mornin’ but not yesterday mornin’… how ’bout you Andrew?”
Andrew: “Dude, do I look as crazy as my brother?”
Peter steps out of the boat…
Andrew: “Wait! Look, he’s walkin’ on the water too!”
James: “So, what… I’m gonna sit right here, thank you very much.”
Thaddeus: “Whatever… are we there yet?”
“Oh ye of little faith.” I know, it was directed mostly at Peter, but he at least had the faith to get out of the boat. Can’t ye be plural as well as a singular? Good thing here in NC we have ‘y’all’ and ‘all y’all’ to help us differentiate between the two.
So Royce, are we stepping out in faith? Yes? Great… I’m right behind you. =)
More walk, less talk…
Although the context of my post is the nature of faith as it relates to salvation, I agree with your remarks. It is not the quantity of our faith but the object of it that matters most.
You referred to Mark 9. The demon possessed boy’s father had very limited, timid faith, but because he had enough to ask, his son was freed from demonic power and restored to health.
In the ministry of Jesus, again and again sinners were saved whose hearts were turned toward Him in faith, though in many cases it was very limited. How foolish of us to think that Christ made it more difficult to be saved in the church age than when He personally walked among the people.
God hates sin more than we do. God loves sinners more than we do. God wants sinners to be saved more than we do. And, He is God and we are not. He does not play by our rules but by His own.
Thanks for your visits and your comments.
Grace and Peace,
Rock on, Royce.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6.
I too am looking forward to the series.
God bless you Royce.
Great thoughts Royce, welcome back.
I’ll be checking back for this series too.
I will be linking to your blog here from mine @ http://www.spintersofsilver.com
Thanks for stopping by over at ZZPuck. I like your thoughts.
Pingback: Monday Morning on the Coast « Out Here Hope Remains