Faith is the foundation of Christianity. Peter wrote the brethren in 2 Peter 1:5-7 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance (patience) to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, to brother kindness, love. Faith starts the list; it is faith upon which all of these other virtues are built.
The term faith is used five ways in the Bible:
1. It is a condition of salvation among other conditions of salvation. In fact, faith is the foundation of obedience to the commands to repent (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19) confess Christ (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32-33) and baptism (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-6; Galatians 3:27). If one does not believe in God or believe that Jesus is Christ there is no real motivation to obey the plan of salvation, or to be further obedient to the commands of God.
2. It is used in a miraculous sense in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 to suggest a miraculous endowment of faith. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul discussed that the miraculous measures of faith and the other gifts would be done away with when that which is perfect, or complete, is come.
3.The term is used to describe a system or body of faith. In Ephesians 4:4-6 Paul wrote, “There is one body and on Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
4. In Romans 14:22 Paul asked the brethren in Rome, “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” Here the word is talking about the personal conviction that a Christian has about God and his relationship with God.
5. Then, the term is used to talk about a comprehensive, inclusive sense of belief or faith. This is the way the word is used in John 3:16 “For God so loved that world that he gave his only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Here, the idea of “believes in him” would include all the other conditions of salvation. So, we could say that the word “faith” here would include repentance, confession and baptism. Here the word is used as a synecdoche, which “is a member of the figurative language family. It’s an odd word for what is simply using part of a whole to represent the whole.”
Faith is based on facts or on evidence. The faith that we have and enjoy is not speculative; it is not a “leap in the dark.” Some people talk about a “leap of faith” but when we consider the proofs from Scripture about the resurrection (e.g 1 Corinthians 15); about fulfilled prophecy, about historical and scientific reliability, we can know that the Bible is true, and the Jesus is the Christ.
Faith is much more than feeling. We must understand that emotion is based on knowledge; yet some place their faith in their feelings. They “feel” it; therefore, it must be right. Yet Scripture is clear that we may not “feel” a certain thing to be right, yet it is; or a certain thing to be wrong, when it isn’t. When we base our faith on Scripture, then we have a solid basis for our faith, rather than the “flighty feelings” that are here one moment and gone the next.
Faith must move us forward. We see example after example in Hebrews 11 of those who “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. . . (Hebrews 12:33-35a).
Faith must bear fruit. Jesus stressed in John 15 that the disciple that stays in the vine will bear much fruit – hence, the disciples that obey the Lord and His word will bear fruit; others will not. We often think of the “fruits of the Spirit” mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 is “bearing fruit,” and while these are definitely included, we also know that faith must bear fruit in every aspect of our lives. Faith is the answer to worry, doubt, and trials; faith encourages us to “faithfulness” and patience in trials. Faith believes that God is there and will be with us unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).
Faith must look to the future. In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We look for the upward call of God everyday!
Finally, faith finds its fruition in death! As we leave this earthly tent (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8) we know that we have a better home! A better place that transcends all of the worry and care of this world.
Faith causes us to trust God, not ourselves. Faith helps us as we face this world with all of its trials. May we strive to grow more faithful and grow in our faith, not in ourselves, but in God!
From a Sermon by Jim Dearman, 2002.
IF HE DOES NOT
“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Three words give us faith for the fires of life; “But if not.” The faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was rooted in God’s sovereignty over all creation and His righteous care for His people in Babylonia. But if he did not choose to extricate them from the fire, they would not worship the golden statue of Nebuchadnezzar. The story of what happened to Daniel’s friends is a source of courage and confidence for us today. We are never left alone in the fires. The Lord is with us when we feel the blasts of difficulty and testing. Because the “fourth-man” is present in our trials we can say, “He can and will help me in this situation, but even if he does not choose to intervene in the way I want, I will not give up; for I know that even though I die, I will live, and nothing in this life can separate me from his love.”
Our hope is not based on getting God to do what we want! It is based on trust that regardless of how events work out, he will do for us that which is best.
Harry Gipson Via The Heartbeat, Macedonia Church of Christ