What is Faith?
Faith is a subject much talked about, and perhaps little understood. The New Testament talks about faith in such a way that we are expected to know exactly what faith is. Religious groups, on the other hand, claim faith is mysterious and can only be understood by their members. Sometimes, because of prior learning, I, too, fell into denominational thinking. They say, Faith is something we cannot see, not based on sight. Of course not, because we cannot see the events reported in the Bible. The Bible says, faith is something hoped for. Certainly, because based on Gods previous demonstrations of His love, we must believe His promises as Abraham did. Therefore, we hope for the promises, which are as sure as the existence of the universe.
Here are some thoughts on faith I have heard. It is a belief on anything. People choose what to believe. It is something people believe and do without sight or evidence. It is like walking into the abyss as Indiana Jones did in the Last Crusade. It is strength. It is something promised. It is not big like the mustard seed. It has something to do with being under authority.
What do you think? Ill wait while you write your thoughts pretend you are listening to the music played during Final Jeopardy, or any other music you might prefer....
The Biblical Facts about Faith
Much of my thinking had been somewhat fuzzy about faith until I undertook this latest study. Now I can share with you the Truth of faith from Gods point of view as seen in His Word.
Faith, in Hebrew, is awman, which means to build up or support, to render firm or faithful, to trust or believe, to be permanent or quiet, morally, to be true or certain, according to Strongs. Added to the prime root sound of faith, we learn that faith also has the sense of: to say answer, speak, command.
And God said, Let there be light! And there was light. (Gen 1:3)
When God told Abram (his name before God changed it to Abraham) that he would have progeny numerous as the stars in the sky. Now Abram believed God, not believed in God, but believed what He promised. Why?
God had just made the promise after Abram kept but-ting God. But he had no children. But my heir is my servant. Then God showed him the sky. Abram was not asked to believe the way most religious types ask their members to believe. You cant understand; so just believe, have faith. Huh? Well, God showed Abram the stars, and Abram believed. God didnt say just believe. He offered proof the stars.
God is the Creator of the heavens and the Earth. This fact is incontrovertible. Most scientists, while professing their ignorance about a real, living Creator, admit that there had to be a First Cause and a Big Bang. They know that the Earth suddenly had life on it when the Earth was ready to support life. They know about the DNA molecule, which permeates all life. They know that the eye in all creatures is the same, with a few minor variations.
Abram knew God was the Creator of the universe and all life on Earth. In Romans, Paul states clearly, For since the creation of the world Gods invisible qualities His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Rom 1:20)
Abram knew God could and would give him what He promised. He was the Creator. He could see the proof of Gods Nature from nature. He did not have to work up faith or walk without sight. He knew the facts. What Abram did, which most refuse to, is choose to believe Gods promises and prove that faith by obeying Gods commands, the commandments of life.
Eve knew God was the Creator. She knew His commands about not eating the fruit. She chose to ignore Gods command. She saw the fruit and it looked delicious. How could it cause death? This is where one walks by faith. God, the Creator said, it would cause death. Now do you choose to believe what your eyes see or what God said? Do you choose to believe what people say or what the Bible says? Do you choose the Sabbath and Holy Days of the Bible or do you choose the Sunday and holidays made up by men? The choice you make is faith. Do you choose to work or shop and spend money on the Sabbath or do you believe what God says about resting on His Holy Day, not mine or any other churches, but His Holy Day? That choice is faith. The reason the Sabbath is such an important faith choice is because God rested and made the day holy by resting after the creation. It comes down to the fact that God is the Creator, none other.
For the past two hundred years, people have been trying to discredit the hypocritical and enslaving churches by discrediting the Bible. Well, all the attempts have failed because now science has actually proven the Creators existence and proven the facts of the Bible. But as Paul said, we always knew God is the Creator. Science did not need to discredit any organization. The Bible discredits all who refuse to choose faith.
God did not ask Israel to believe Him without offering the proof of miracles. He changed the river to blood. He brought down all the plagues. He killed the first born of those who choose not to believe His wonders and Word by putting the blood of the lamb around the doors of their houses.
Faith is not conferred on a special blind believer. Rather faith comes from the evidence God gives us.
(See: Gen 15:16.)
Faithfulness of the Law and Covenant
To those who were willing to accept Gods faithfulness, He revealed His Law to them, first to Noah, then Abraham and Moses. He also blessed them with participation in His Covenant. Every time people agreed to Gods Covenant and proved their loyalty, God further blessed them with material blessings in the Old Covenant and added spiritual blessings in the New Covenant. When the body of knowledge was complete, God called it faith, or a system of beliefs he revealed.
God blessed those who adhered to the Faith. You see, faith is revealed by Gods Word and particularly the gospel. The best proof of the faithfulness of the Law is keeping it because blessings will overwhelm the believer. The best proof of the Covenant, is keeping the conditions and receiving overwhelming blessings.
The reason faithful people keep the Law and the Covenant is because they look up to the heavens and recognize the goodness of the Creator. The reason why people keep the Law and the Covenant is because the record of Truth is found in the Bible. Amen.
(See: Acts 6:7, Rom 3:25, 10:8-10.)
The Faith of Jesus Was Based on Fact
Abraham saw the heavens and believed God. David saw the proliferation of life on Earth and believed God. The children of Israel saw the wonders God performed up to and including the Passover and believed God, well, most of them did.
It is also true of Jesus. The first miracle Jesus performed was changing water to wine at the wedding feast of Cana. Because of this wonder, his disciples put their faith in him. The signs, the facts, always precede the faith.
What else did Jesus do? He healed the sick, cast out demons, calmed the sea, walked on water, multiplied the loaves and fishes, and raised the dead. All these facts were attested to by several eye witnesses, such as, Matthew, an Apostle, Mark, and Luke, who interviewed many eye witnesses, John, the beloved Apostle, Paul, who had a close encounter with Jesus, Peter, an Apostle, James, the brother of Jesus, and Jude, another brother of Jesus. God says two or three witness is enough to prove a case in the courts. Here we have six eyewitnesses and hundreds who gave testimony to Mark, Luke, and Paul.
These are the facts. One further fact is important. All these eyewitnesses attest to the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to the heavens.
We have further facts of the miracles that occurred in the Acts of the Apostles, such as, the Pentecost, speaking in tongues, healings, and other wonders. We thus have the fact that true believers, beside Jesus, were able to perform wonders.
Well, we were not there, could not be there. We have to accept the facts as related in the Gospel and the rest of the New Testament. It is harder today. Churches mix in a lot of paganism into the pure faith given by God. Groups who hate God have tried for centuries to disprove the Word of God and left a residue on the culture of disbelief and questioning the facts. And many so-called believers give Christianity a bad name by their words and actions. All these impact and hurt our faith.
Whether we want it to happen or not, what we learned young and what beats against us from the worldly media keeps fighting Gods Word in our minds. We have to fight for the Truth, just the facts.
(See: John 2:11, 7:31, Rom 3:22, 10:17, 14:23, 1 Cor 2:5, 15:14, Gal 3:8-9.)
The Faithfulness of Jesus
Jesus showed his faithfulness in small and great ways. His wonders are worth repeating. He changed water to wine. He multiplied the loaves and fishes. He walked on the water. He calmed the furious wind. He cast out demons. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He preached the word. He challenged the unbelievers.
But most of all Jesus died for our sins. He, who committed no sins, took on the evils he hated to the core of his being onto himself for us. Paul reminds us that if Jesus was willing to die for us while we were still enemies of God and him, we can always trust him forever and ever. Say, Amen.
(See: Matt 8:26, Mark 16:14, Luke 5:21-24, Acts 3:16, Gal 2:20.)
The God Faith
When Peter exclaimed that the fig tree Jesus had cursed was withered, Jesus said have the God faith.
What is the God faith? Because God is the Creator, because God created the universe for people, because God planned to adopt children into His Family, because God sent Jesus to save us, because God is Love, and because God wants to give us eternal life, He commanded the universe into existence. Let there be light. When we grow into the attributes and maturity that God has, which we are commanded to do, then God will give us ability to command things into existence or out of existence, or move mountains.
This God faith requires the trust in God that comes from knowledge and our acting on that trust by believing Gods promises and walking in the Way. We need to be like Abraham. Jesus had the God faith. It is ours for the same utter commitment to God that Jesus had. He will help us develop the faith we need, or else why would Jesus tell us to have the God Faith.
Like the days of old, God expects New Testament believers to be trustworthy. He has given us a potential for righteousness, faith, and love far beyond those of the past. He has imbued us with the power of His Spirit. He has given us the example of Jesus. He has given us Jesus as our special advocate. He has taken away our slavery, not to the Egyptians, but to the demonic master of the Earth. We are now free to serve the Lord our God through Jesus.
Thus endowed, God expects the kind of loyalty commensurate with our position as children and heirs of God. In this day and age, with so many religions claiming to be the true church but mixing so much paganism with Christianity, loyalty to God and His clear and pure Truth is rare. Even those who know the Truth often let their actions betray their faith for frivolous reasons.
God values loyalty to Him through Jesus very highly. But He does not cast us into the world without adequate training in faith.
(See: Matt 8:10, 9:2, Eph 3:17, James 5:15, 1 John 5:4.)
Training in Faithfulness
We need to remember first that faith is the body of knowledge of God and His Word. We have more knowledge than those of the past do. We have the facts and information about the Gospel, Acts, and the various letters that the Apostles wrote. We are better educated. And education must precede any other training.
Then we are given the opportunity to go beyond the commandments, which are thou shalt nots, to thou shalts. For example, instead of just eschewing idolatry, we worship God in Spirit and Truth; instead of not stealing from our neighbor, we work hard to give to the poor. Thus, our training in faith far exceeds those of the great patriarchs and prophets of the past.
While the examples of the great ones of the past are good, we have the example of Jesus. Each of the faithful of the past were flawed one way or another. Not so with Jesus. He never sinned against God or man. He was the perfect example even unto his death on the cross and Gods raising him from the dead. When we walk in the Way as shown by Jesus, our training in faith becomes perfectly mature.
The Master trains us; there is none greater. Our faith must, therefore, go beyond those of mere mortal men, who have not had the opportunity to be trained by Jesus, the Christ. Eventually, Jesuss training us in the God faith results in our attaining the complete measure of being fully like Christ. Say, Amen.
(See: Matt 21:21-22, Luke 17:5, 10, 2 Cor 10:15, 13:5, Eph 4:13, Col 2:5-7.)
Faith Is Proven by Words and Deeds
We need the words of faith. But as James warns faith without works is dead. So we need both.
Jesus tells us that our hearts deepest attributes come gushing out in what we say. Our mouths betray our inner most feelings and thoughts. No matter how hard we try to keep a civil tongue in our mouths, we will speak our minds. The good news is if we fill our hearts and minds with Gods Words, our speech will bring glory to God. The bad news is, the lack of Bible Study will cause our mouths to utter coals and ashes, gossips and criticisms.
As far as deeds go, we walk by faith. This is true in everything we do in life. As I have gone on before, we do what we believe in. We must make sure that what we believe is True. Gods Word is Truth, which we have proven in this and the previous newsletter. So, why not walk by the Truths found in the Bible?
Jesus saw the faith in a person and proclaimed their sins forgiven. Jesus saw the faith in a person and commanded him to walk. The faith in Jesus made him jump up in joy in the renewed power of his limbs long dead. Jesus commanded them to see, and they opened their eyes. Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth, and he shook off the cobwebs of death and emerged alive and well. These miracles demand our attention.
But other miracles can be just as dramatic. We never lie or gossip about someone. We encourage another rather than overpower him with constructive criticism. In other words, we serve the Lord in love by keeping the Commandments. These little things are the foundation of the miracles of faith. Amen.
(See: Luke 5:20, 2 Cor 4:13, Acts 14:9-10, Heb 6:12, James 2:14, 26.)
Courage to Be Faithful
From Joshua to Peter, God says be strong and of good courage. Saul failed in faith because he needed to please his friends. He also feared or lacked the courage to stand up to those around him. This is a common human trait. We want to be liked. We covet the approval of others. Few will really stand on their own two feet and do what God wants instead of gratifying their own desires and pandering to the manipulation of others.
So Jesus told Simon Peter that he prayed for his courage. But Peter failed in his faith. After Jesus was captured and was being tortured, Peter stood by and lied about his relation to Jesus. He lied three times that he did not know Jesus. When the cock crowed, Peter remembered Jesuss words and repented with much remorse and tears. And when Peter learned courage the hard way, Jesus challenged him to strengthen his brothers. That is why we ought to be around those of faith to help our weaknesses.
Those times we do not follow the Way, we fail to demonstrate that we know Jesus and are his disciples. We deny Jesus by our faithlessness and disobedience. At the time the cock crows in our lives, we should consider ourselves blessed that God did not get our attention in a more dramatic way.
Faithfulness, Love, and Righteousness
Righteousness, love, and faithfulness together make a potent trilogy of a life and eternal life. The righteous live by faith. The greatest of these is love because even if we have the faith to move mountains and have not love we are empty and hollow.
Peter says to add to our faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. With the power of all three, we have a force to do great good.
(See: Rom 1:17, 1 Cor 13:2, 2 Pet 1:5-7.)
Live by Faith
(See: Heb 11, 2 Cor 5:7.)
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