Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Faith Defined

Not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity [the quality or state of being faithful], that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. Titus 2:10

Faith as a fruit is character. It is an attitude of faith towards God. It is developed through the process of His life within us bringing spiritual growth. While everyone does not have the gift of faith, the fruit of faith should be evident in the lives of all believers.

Faith is the seventh attribute of "the fruit of the Spirit." Along with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness, there is faith — all describing the singular "fruit of the Spirit."   Though faith should not be emphasized above the other characteristics, it is a vital and crucial inclusion in the fruit of the spirit because the word of God tells us: 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6).  

However, in order to please God, we must have the right kind of faith. Not just any faith pleases God nor is any kind of faith characteristic of "the fruit of the Spirit."

Within the word of God, there are basically two kinds of faith: 
*    dead faith which is the faith of devils

The faith of devils is mere belief or knowledge of facts. James says, 

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19)

The devil has knowledge of who God is and who God’s Son is. The devil and his imps also know and believe Jesus died for the sins of the world, but this is as far as their faith goes. They do not have saving faith, and, therefore, they tremble in fear of God and His judgment.

*     saving faith 

Saving faith is belief coupled with obedience as a result of faith. When Apostle Paul was in Philippi, he and Silas were beaten and imprisoned. After the miracle of the earthquake, the jailhouse doors were opened, and "everyone’s bands were loosed," the Jailer asked, 

"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:19-30) 

Apostle Paul answered, 

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31)

Was Apostle Paul commanding them to merely believe? The answer is no. Why? Because of the verse that follows:  

"And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house."   (Acts 16:32)

 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Romans 10:17) 

Their faith was being increased by the word spoken to them. Then verse 33 says, 

"And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway." (Acts 16:33)

Why did the jailor and his family wash their stripes? Because they were repenting of their sin of beating Paul and Silas. By washing their stripes, they were helping the healing process, and thus correcting their sin as much as humanly possible. Also notice in this verse, they were baptized. Finally, in verse 34, we find them rejoicing. Why? Because their sins were washed away. At the point of mere belief? No, after they heard the word, repented, and were baptized. Finally, notice the summary Luke gives by inspiration, "

And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house..."   (Acts 16:4)

Luke summarizes all that they did in the word "believing." Thus, we see saving faith includes acts of obedience. For this reason, James says:

"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works" (James 2:18)
"But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:20)

"Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?"

(James 2:22)

"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24)

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also"
(James 2:26)

Therefore, without obedient, saving faith, it is impossible to please God.

Haing defined the two types of fairh, the question remains what is faith?  Some would point to Hebrews 11:1 for a definition of faith. However, this is more of a description of faith than a definition.  

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1

From this verse we learn some more qualities of faith. Within faith, there is substance or a quality of confidence which helps a person to endure, and there is evidence which is proof. It is not some "leap in the dark" but has its foundation in proof.

The actual definition of faith is "firm persuasion" or "firm conviction based upon being persuaded." However, it is used three basic ways within Scripture:

®    The word faith is used of trust.  

"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." 1 Corinthians 2:5

Apostle Paul was speaking about trust. We should not put our trust in man’s wisdom but in the power of God. The Jews of old trusted in their own wisdom, and God lead them into captivity. Today, rather than trusting God and preaching His word, many draw disciples after them by the wisdom of man with good words and fair speeches:

For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.  (Romans 16:18). 

Let us grow in faith by trusting God and taking Him at His word.

®  The word faith is used of trustworthiness or fidelity

"Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things."   Titus 2:10

The word translated "fidelity" in this verse could have been translated "faith." To show "good fidelity" is to show one’s trustworthiness, dependability, or reliability. When the Bible talks about the faithfulness of God - 

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;  (Deuteronomy 7:9)

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  (1 Corinthians 1:9)

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13), 

- it is this characteristic. When we read of those who are "faithful in Christ Jesus" -

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:  (Ephesians 1:1) 

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Colossians 1:2)

- again it is this characteristic.  Thus, we can say in order to be faithful in Christ Jesus, one must have all good fidelity. His or her life must be characterized by trustworthiness and dependability on God, His word, and His people.

®  The word faith is used in reference to a scheme of belief.  

This is generally designated as "the faith" and refers to the holy scriptures by which we grow in faith 

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Romans 10:17)

Luke records, 

"And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith"
(Acts 6:7)

They were obedient to a scheme of belief or system of faith. Nearing the end of his life, Apostle Paul wrote, 

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7)

Again, Apostle Paul kept a system of belief — the word of God. Finally, Jude wrote we:

"should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3)

Similarly, Apostle Paul said, 

"I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17)

To defend the gospel and to earnestly contend for the faith is the same concept. Notice further, Jude said, the faith "was once delivered unto the saints" or "once for all delivered..." The Bible is the complete revelation of God. There is no place and no need for further revelation for God has given 

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3)

Again, faith is not some subjective leap in the dark. It is concrete and objective. It has its foundation in the word of God. Since without faith it is impossible to please God, then lets discuss how to grow in faith.

©    By reading and studying God’s eternal word:  

"faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17)

©    Let us do more than just maintain this marvelous attribute of "the fruit of the Spirit,"  let us grow in faith so that we will not have "little faith"

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  (Matthew 6:30) 

but will have "great faith" as the centurion

When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.  (Matthew 8:10) 

and the woman of Canaan

Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.  (Matthew 15:28)

©    And let us be like Abraham, the father of the faithful, who was "not weak in faith" but "was strong in faith"

Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.  And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:(Romans 4:18-19)

Therefore, like the apostles, we plead unto the Lord, "Increase our faith"

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.  (Luke 17:5)

Faith is a gift and also a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit. 

The gift of faith is imparted from God through the Word, 
but the fruit of faith is produced by the Holy Spirit. 

The gift of faith can move mountains, but the fruit of faith is what is required for daily living. The fruit of faith enables us to walk and live by faith 

Through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God's glory Romans 5:2

Without this kind of faith, it is impossible to please God. 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

According to Webster's Dictionary, faithfulness means a "firm adherence to the truth and to the duties of relationship with God; adhering to your duties; loyalty; constant in performance of duties or services."

Being faithful is not always easy; it requires making a decision and then sticking to it no matter what, regardless of what our thoughts and feelings tell us. However, when we are faithful and do what God tells us to do, we will be rewarded;  

His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matthew 25:23)

(Biblical Studies)



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