Thursday, January 25, 2018

Faith: Trust, Fidelity and Belief

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

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 vital and crucial because without 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)

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

There are basically two kinds of faith:

        (a) dead faith which is the faith of devils and
        (b) saving faith.
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 devils have knowledge of who God is and who God’s Son is. They 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 is belief coupled with obedience of acts of faith.

Now that we understand there are two kinds of faith, 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. So, what is faith?

The actual definition of faith is:

"firm persuasion" or "firm conviction based upon being persuaded."

However, it is used three basic ways within Scripture:

→     First, the word faith is used of trust.

Apostle Paul wrote,

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. Remember this one simple rule: If it's not found (in the bible), it's not sound.

      Second, the word faith is used of trustworthiness or fidelity. 

Apostle Paul wrote to Titus,

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. This is probably the specific characteristic Apostle Paul is describing in "the fruit of the Spirit." When the Bible talks about the faithfulness of God it is this characteristic.

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)

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

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)

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 to God, His word, and His people.

→    Third, the word faith is used in reference to a scheme of belief.

By inspiration, 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: 

" ye 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 "unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness": 

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)

Faith is not tired resignation nor is it some subjective leap in the dark as some would have you believe. It is concrete and objective. It has its foundation in the word of God. Since without faith it is impossible to please God, let us determine how to grow in faith. How?

           *      By reading and studying God’s eternal word.

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

         *       Do more than just maintain the atttribute of "the fruit of the Spirit," 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)

Let us desire to be like the apostles who petitioned the Lord for increased faith.

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

Biblical Studies


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