What is Faith?
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It's amazing how much pain can come from such a small injury. I'm not sure how I hurt my hand, but my ring finger won't move, and when it woke me up last night I thought it was at it's worse then, I was wrong. By dinner time I was pacing as I was in too much pain to settle in one place. I marveled at how inflammation can generate that much pain..and how awful it is to not be able to get away from it. There was no resting position that eased my pain, and I was burning through the ice we had. Seeing my distress my wife combed through our cabinet, finding mostly expired ointments. Though late, she prepared for going to the store, and because I was desperate, though it was late, I was okay with that. I wanted her to buy every type of thing they had in hopes something would help. That, however was something I needn't ask of her and I knew it because I knew her. She loved me more than I, and was more knowledgeable with these things. To ask for specifics would only reduce my care to my understanding. I was fully confident the best thing I could is say nothing and let her operate according to the knowledge and love she had for me.


I didn't choose to trust, I just did, and my distress proved that. Had I any doubts about her knowledge I would have given her suggestions. If I doubted her compassion I may have reminded her of how much pain I'm in. If I doubted her ability I may have sent her text messages as she was enroute to the store. But the fact is, I had zero doubt. On the contrary, I specifically kept my mouth shut because I wanted the kind of care I knew she would bring, a level exceeding my own, and had I instructed her I would have only brought such care down to my level.


Faith is defined in Hebrews as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most definitely then I had faith in my wife. In fact, this revelation of faith came before she returned from the store. Though it hadn't happened yet, I was so convinced it would, I was processing the events as if they had already happened. I.e. "assurance of things hoped for". What I was processing was the fact I didn't implore her to help me. I just let her go knowing she would. I actually asked God how I could apply this revelation to Him, and here was what was promptly presented.


The reason for the confidence is I know my wife. I know her heart, and it's been proven so many times to me that you're not going to convince me otherwise. Trust then was merely a byproduct of what I knew. Not only did I have a head knowledge, but I trust her at a heart level which means I didn't need to think about it, nor did I have to choose trust in opposition to my heart's anxieties. I just did it. So many times Jesus asked "why do doubts arise in your hearts" (Luke 24:38). The problem then isn't that I haven't made a choice to trust as if faith was merely a choice, the problem is I have a skewed view of who God is. While I know my wife very well and am familiar with her love, compassion, faithfulness, and goodness, apparently I must not have the same confidence in God...though He gave up His only begotten for me, yet I doubt His being for me, a truly ridiculous notion once exposed.


I believe when Jesus asks the question "Why did you doubt?" I believe it's worth considering it not as a rebuke, but as an opportunity to draw out of the doubter the lie that has gotten in. To cause the one asked to bring to his concious brain a belief of the heart that's errant in order to replace it with the truth. Jesus often addressed His followers with questions instead of just telling them the answers and many studies have shown today that when you ask rather than tell, you cause the person to make a deliberate focus, pondering, and resolution on the particular question at hand. It's no wonder then that Jesus often would ask the disciples questions not because He didn't know, but because they needed to decide what to do with it rather than let His words fall on dull hearing.


I think the real attack is not on the existence of God but on the goodness of God. Because if I can get you to doubt for a moment that God is not for you because of something you have done, then your entire focus will change from a trust in Him, to a correction in you. The one who struggles with knowing the goodness of God often pursues getting to a place where they will be in it. The one who truly knows it, knows that it has met them exactly where they are, exactly how they are, and will never leave them. One tries to get out of prison in order to enjoy the freedom Christ provides, the other let's Jesus walk them out of prison. One tries to trust more, the other trusts that Christ will help them in their distrust (Mark 9:24, Heb. 12:2).


We know what faith is as defined by the writer of Hebrews, "assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things not seen" but where does faith come from? That's easy. I have faith in my wife because I know my wife. Therefore faith is a byproduct of knowing her character. Could this be the same with God? I believe so and is supported by Romans 10:17 which states "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Faith then is a byproduct of hearing about Christ and getting to know who He is, what He's done, and His great love, which is reiterated throughout the bible, New and Old Testaments. Therefore faith is not a choice, it's a result. The choice is making a decision to get to know Christ, but once you know Him, (and I mean know the real and true, gracious God that He is) you will begin to trust Him just as I trust my wife. Now one may make a choice to step out in faith, but even that testifies of an already present faith. Nowhere in Hebrews 11:1 does it say faith is a choice, yet all of scripture pleads with us to change our mind about Jesus (i.e. repent), in other words, get to know the true Him, and faith will happen organically.


So many people look at their lack of faith, pay attention to their doubts, and go about solving that in all the wrong ways. Then, in a cycle of trying to choose faith, they fail at faith, and the cycle perpetuates itself. The solution isn't to choose faith, it's to get to know God and let faith have it's result from that (1 John 4:16). If I don't trust in a chair's ability to hold me, I don't solve that by trying to convince myself it will, I solve that by getting to know the chair. Studying it, examining it, testing it (Psa. 34:8). Whether that's slowly easing into sitting on it, or stacking 300lbs of books on it first. When I see the chair is worthy, faith will organically happen and I may sit in it without thinking twice about it (i.e. no doubts).


But what about when we doubt? Ah that's a good question. That brings me back to my wife running to the store. If I had unfounded doubts about her compassion, does that neutralize her compassion? Do my doubts somehow change her character (Heb. 13:8)? Is her love for me contingent on my believing it (Rom. 5:8), or is her knowledge of what's best for me suddenly become nullified by my suggestions (Rom. 5:10)? If I am in pain, is my wife only wanting to see me relieved of it as long as I believe she wants to see me relieved of it, or would her wanting to see me free from agony be present whether I believed this about her or not?


The fact is God's goodness is always for us whether we trust it or not. Even if you lose faith, God still remains faithful toward you because that's who He is and He cannot deny Himself! (2 Tim. 2:13). That is the essence of Romans 5:8, 10. When we were at our worst, sinners, enemies of God, Christ died for us. Our faith neither warrants God's love for us, or subdues it by lack thereof. We don't compel God with our faith, He's already compelled because of Himself (Rom. 10:21, 2 Cor. 5:20). On days you doubt, and days you believe, God is the same God who is for you 100%. The fact is, whether or not you believe God is willing to go to the store for you, or that He loves you enough to do so, or that He's knowledgeable enough to know what you need is never contingent on whether you believe it or not, whether you trust it or not. The only thing that changes when we have faith is our efforts as we shift from trying to get in His favor, to resting in the realization we've never lost it. Jamie would have gone to the store and purchased the goods out of her love regardless, but if I lack faith I feel I need to do something, if I have faith, I rest in that she knows what she's doing.


God is absolutely going to the store for you, actually He already has, except instead of the store, it's the cross, instead of ointment it's His blood. Regardless if you believe it or not, your sins, went to the cross with Him that day. (1 John 2:2, 1 Tim. 4:10). God is always for you...but do you believe that? Many feel God is not for them. Christians say God is good, but they don't feel God is good, at least not toward them. They know it's the right theological answer, but they haven't spent time to know God like I know my wife, that would cast out all fear (1 John 4:18). These are people, like Peter, who don't allow God to wash their feet. Imagine how frustrating it would be for my wife to be torn apart as I writhe in pain, to be holding the ointment that would make it feel better, only to have me not receive it. She, like God, would plead (2 Cor. 5:20) in an attempt to convince me, but what if I simply won't be convinced? What if Peter would have not let Jesus wash His feet? "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Jesus said.


Faith then is receiving. It never activates God, it never provokes Him to love, nor does it cause Him to want to give you grace. These things already are (Isa. 30:18). Faith lets Him love of you, simple as that. How much faith does it take well that's the fun part. A mustard seed is all (Matt. 17:20). Peter still didn't understand when he replied to Jesus "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." (John 13:9) Sometimes we may not get it, but don't let that stop you from letting Him who does get it make you clean even if you approach it from a lack of understanding. The prodigal didn't get it either. After being kissed, hugged, and embraced (Luke 15:20), he still tried to give his "I'm not worthy" speech he had prepared. The fact he didn't appreciate the love being poured out on him didn't stop the father from lavishing it on him and celebrating and rejoicing greatly over it (Luke 15:32). How easy it is to be saved!


Consider the bronze serpent. Jesus said "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life." (John 3:14-15). During the plague of snakes in the OT, God instructed Moses to raise a bronze statue of a serpent, and when anyone was bit by a poisonous snake, if they looked at the statue, they would live. How much faith then would it take? Imagine looking around at many people dying after being bit by these snakes when all the sudden you get bit by one. How much faith would it take then to give a glance at this statue? I mean, one thing you're sure of is you're gonna die, then you hear about how a mere glance at this statue prevents that, and others are testifying to how it worked for them. How much faith then would it take to turn your head toward it and take a peek? The same is true regarding how easy it is to be saved.


Faith is not impressive in and of itself. Rather faith lets Him who is impressive in every regard lavish His grace on you. You don't need to know how it works, you just need to have enough faith to let Him do it. Accept the hugs, let Him was your feet, glance at the statue; you need not understand the why or how, you just need to not reject it. Faith is as easy as letting God do what He said He would do, good theology, understanding, or works are not needed. Only have a mustard seed of faith? Good news, that's all that's needed! (Mat. 17:20). Grace is what's impressive, faith simply allows grace to come in.


"For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed" - Romans 4:16a


Why is it by faith? "in order that it may be in accordance with grace". Faith allow God to do all the saving, and because He does all the saving "the promise will be guaranteed". The shortest salvation prayer I ever heard was "fine". And I thought about that many times, and I truly believe that was enough. Why? Because that man was in that moment, permitting God to save him. It really is that easy. God wants to save you, His stance on that is unchanging (2 Pet. 3:9) whether you accept it or not, so accept it! And know it's easy, very easy, not because salvation is easy, but because God really really wants to give it to you and is looking for any indicator to do so. As with the prodigal, His eyes watch the horizon, and even those still a long way off (Luke 15:20) are spotted by Him, and ran to, met, and repeatedly lavished in His love.


If you struggle with doubt, know that's okay. So did Peter (Luke 22:62), John the Baptist (Matt. 11:3), and all the Apostles (Luke 24:36-41), yet in each case God remained unfazed by it. Why? Because God never doubted their salvation, and He likewise doesn't with yours either. The guarantee is a reality, and one He never doubts even if we do. But if you have your doubts, get to know God more, be deliberate to put Philippians 4:8 into practice and get to know Him and make a practice to do so regularly, and your fears, unfounded as you'll see, will be pushed out as you get to know His perfect, ever present love for you (Luke 12:32).


If you're not somewhere that preaches the grace of Jesus Christ, then you need to get somewhere are. A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Mat. 16:11-12, Gal. 5:9). Legalism comes natural, grace does not. So easily we'll sway back into legalistic ways of thinking as it's a well worn rut in our mind. Get somewhere that starts making a new rut, a new way of thinking (Phil. 4:8) through God's grace, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2). Everyday the enemy will tell you lies about God, look at how many times false teachers were dealt with even in biblical times. Therefore it's important that you feed on the truth of the grace of God that never changes. I spend time with my wife daily, I know her well enough to have had no doubts. If someone were to tell me something contrary to what I know of my wife, I wouldn't give in to them even for an hour, therefore we should seek to have the same stability in what we know about God too (Gal. 2:5).


When Jamie came back, she not only came back with various types of pain relievers, she also brought me three different types of my favorite snacks. This too reminded me of God when Paul writes "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). If God's heart is so much for you that He'd pay the ultimate price, Paul then argues how could God, with such a heart that's for you, not want to bless you with everything else in Him! It's not as though God is obligated to give us everything, but the same God who's heart cheerfully gives up His Son (Isa. 53:10, Heb. 12:2), how is He not also going to give us that which He's been freed to give, that which gives Him great joy to do so? The person who opens the door for God to bless them will be no means be disappointed (Rom. 10:11).


"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" - John 8:31b-32

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What is Faith?


If you ask fellow Christians this question you will get a wide range of answers. Ephesians 2:8 tells us "For by grace you have been saved through faith..." Since faith is a fundamental part of Christianity, I feel it's important to have an understanding to this question.


Before we delve into what faith is I want to first establish what faith is not. To properly understand what faith is we need to douse some common misconceptions of what faith is; to first break-up poor foundations on this issue so that a proper foundation can be laid.

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Interestingly I've found many Christians to believe faith is a work. Some rightfully claim it is not, yet in their theology they regard it as a work nonetheless. This is grossly in error and such belief makes people conclude some horrendous things. So what do I mean by work. Well a work is something that earns you a wage. A work merits something. In a worldly sense this holds true. When we go to our place of employment our work merits us our wages. When we earn, in other words, when we do the work we then earn the right to boast. Why? Because we did the work that merited the wage. If however lets say the boss gives me a wage even though I never show up for work nor do anything to contribute toward his business. What would I brag about then? Would I boast in myself? No. I actually should be humbled. For I am receiving that which I did not earn, a gift in which I did not merit, a gift I'm only receiving because of the generosity of the boss. I couldn't call it a wage, because I did not earn it, therefore it becomes a gift given to me solely on the basis of his grace. If at anytime something I did earned this gift then we could no longer call it a gift but it would once again be a wage. Like Paul writes:


Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. - Romans 4:4

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. - Romans 11:6


My analogy above was to better understand the system in which we receive righteousness. God in His grace gifted us with salvation in Christ. It's a free gift (Rom. 6:23). However if you seek to earn it then you are doing so on the basis of works thereby nullifying the receiving it by grace. For you cannot have both, one cancels out the other (Gal. 5:2). Grace earned is no longer grace but a wage. This however is where we all fall short and we know that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). Be careful when asking God to give you what you earned. For what we've earned is death. The only thing we are entitled to is hell. David, having committed adultery and murder testified of God that God was just to judge him (Psa. 51:16) and in this understanding cried out "Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness" much like that of the tax collector spoken of in Luke 18:13.


As Christians we recognize this fundamental truth in that we are saved by God's grace (period). This is often where my calvinistic friends say "gotcha". They agree with me that salvation is monergistic (God does 100% of the saving) and not synergistic (where two or more are contribute to the saving, in the case of Christians where God does most but there's a little bit we have to do). They say to me if faith is an action on our part then it's something that contributes to salvation thus your world view is not mongerism but rather synergism. The error I believe they make with such a claim is they make faith out to be a work when it isn't. They make faith to be something that earns, or merits to us the grace of God and herein lies there error.


Faith does NOTHING to earn us salvation. It contributes to the saving in NO way. Faith does not earn us grace. Faith doesn't force God's grace as if us having faith obligated God to pay us our due grace. If it did, then grace, that is the free gift of eternal life would no longer be a gift, but a wage as something we earned with faith, thus making faith a meritorious work and as we learned from Paul, grace earned is no longer grace. This is the error my calvinistic brothers and sisters are making. By saying faith is a contributing factor to salvation they have made it to be a work. In their minds faith is in one of two camps. They say it's either a work that God does (as part of His grace) or it's a work that man does. They fail to consider that it's not a work at all! Interestingly both Calvinist and Arminians argue back and forth over which camp faith belongs in, whether it's a work of God or a work of man (it's interesting that both theologies agree in that they believe faith is a meritorious work, they just differ on who's responsible for it). I would argue they are both wrong the moment they make faith a meritorious work. By making faith a work they put it in the same camp as other works. To say faith is a work is to liken it to other works such as feeding the poor, preaching a sermon, starting a Christian website, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, living sensibly, and yet it is not. Such works in the Christian are brought about not by faith but by grace (Titus 2:11-14). Even James in addressing another point separates works from faith (James 2:14-26). The fact that faith isn't a work is overwhelmingly supported by scripture. Let's look at the end of Romans 3 and first half of Romans 4:


27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. - Romans 3:27-30

"justified by faith apart from works of the law" By this statement we cannot lump faith in with the works of the law. Notice that boasting is actually excluded by the law of faith. Faith actually nullifies boasting. Calvinist actually agree with that, but then they lump faith in with grace to explain it (which I cover later in this series).

31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. - Romans 3:31

We do not nullify the law but rather through faith we truly fulfill the law (cf. Matt. 5:17, 2 Cor. 5:21)

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. - Romans 4:1-2

If faith were a work then Abraham would still have something to boast about, at least among men.

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” - Romans 4:3

"Credited", meaning gifted, not earned. Righteousness gifted to Abraham on the condition of His trusting God.

Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, - Romans 4:4-5

Like we discussed above, it's either credited as a gift, or it's earned, it cannot be both.

just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” - Romans 4:6-9

Circumcision represented those who followed the law, namely the Jews who were commanded by the law to be circumcised. Circumcision is mentioned dozens and dozens of times in the new testament. In those days it was seen as a meritorious thing that earned the Jews inclusion into heaven.

10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. - Romans 4:10-15

Again you can't have both. Either righteousness comes through the law or through the promise received by faith.

16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, - Romans 4:16

"For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace..." Faith actually establishes grace. If faith were a work then it nullifies grace, but as faith is not a work, because it's not a work, it actually establishes grace. Faith testifies that we are 100% saved by God's grace! If faith were a meritorious work then it would not be in accordance with grace. You can't have a free gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23) that's partially earned. Once it's partially earned it's no longer a free gift, but as Paul states above, it becomes what is due. When a calvinist or arminian argue about which camp this meritorious work of faith belongs in, they are starting that argument with an erroneous foundation with an errant view that faith merits anything. God credits righteousness (gives, attributes, applies) on the basis of faith which is His promise, but He is not paying righteousness as if it was due us because faith somehow merited it. I know I'm rewording myself many times to make the same point but this is not only fundamental to this article, but to our relationship with God.


Faith is not a work. To my calvinistic friends, when you hold to monergism, you are correct in that it's 100% God who does the saving by His grace. Where you error is by making faith a work that merits anything. Whether you include it in God's camp as a work or you include it in man's camp as a work, you still error in viewing it as a meritorious work when it clearly, according to scripture and logic, it is not. Now the first objection brought up is often Ephesians 2:8-9, so let me start there.


For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 (emphasis mine)

Faith is named separately from grace. If it were part of grace the verse would read "For by grace you have been saved" (period). But Paul makes a distinction. God's grace does 100% of the saving, this is true and why monergism is true in soteriology. But it is faith that introduces us to this grace. Faith then adds no percentile to contributing to our salvation but rather is a response or an introduction to the One who did it all.

(on a side note "it" found in the phrase above "it is the gift of God", "it"in the Greek is neuter and "faith" is feminine. If you've studied greek that means "it" or in some translations "this" cannot refer to faith but rather the entirety of the verse, all of it. "it" or "this" refers to salvation as a whole.)


through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. - Romans 5:2 (emphasis mine)

We stand entirely by His grace, salvation is 100% by God's doing and it is in this we stand and why the promise can be a guarantee (Rom. 4:16). Faith however introduces us to the one who does 100% of the saving. If we were to say then faith is a work required as part of the salvation equation in that it merits it, then we've made faith out to be a work and we'd have to claim something like God does 98% and we do 2%. For example, we know that the price Christ paid for us is far too high for us to ever pay for ourselves. The debt was to big and we have not the means to pay for it. So keeping with this debt analogy imagine it cost a billion-trillion dollars to get into heaven. Do you have a billion-trillion dollars? No. But Jesus being rich does (2 Cor. 8:9). So Jesus, being so rich in grace, hands you a check for a billion-trillion dollars with his Name, address, and bank account number of His righteousness on it.

Excited you head to the bank to cash in on this check and as you hand it to the teller standing outside the gates of heaven they slide it back to you and say, "excuse me, first you must endorse this check by signing your name on the back before you can cash it". So you sign it (faith) and you head on in. Now when someone in heaven asks you, "hey man, how did you afford to get here?" If you were being honest you would say "Jesus paid my way here in full". Did you endorsing the check add to that sum? No. If signing the back of a check increased it's value I would be writing myself checks and heading down to the bank daily. But the fact is, endorsing something doesn't merit an increase in value, in fact, it doesn't merit anything. It's nothing more than an endorsement. That is what faith is. Faith establishes grace by endorsing it. When we sign the back of that check we establish grace by declaring the way in is the check with Jesus name, His address, and His bank account on it, not ours. Therefore this excludes any boasting by us and it establishes it's 100% Him. This is why boasting is excluded. Furthermore, not only does faith cancel out boasting, it should actually breed humility since it acknowledges our shortcomings, our self inflicted dire situation and God's 100% doing all the work to bail us out of it.

Faith is not an object to warrant focus on itself but rather faith by it's nature draws our attention to something else. If a person makes faith an object to behold then they've made it a work. Faith is merely a trust in something. We trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross, His shed blood, His resurrection. It's all Him. If my wife says she'll take care of the grocery shopping after she picks the kid up from school and I trust her word that she will, does my trusting of it somehow contribute to the grocery shopping being accomplished? No. Does my trusting her to do it mean less work for her at the grocery store as if I were contributing to her labor? No. My trust merits me nothing. What about with God? Does my trust merit His favor? Or in other words, does my trust merit righteousness from God? NO! I deliberately used the word merit here as we've established, merit means earned. Our faith doesn't earn us righteousness, but rather God grants righteousness as a gift on the basis of faith. He doesn't have to as if He somehow owed it to us (then we'd be earning it) but rather He chose to credit it to us by grace on the basis of faith.

This doesn't mean God used the old system, old wineskins, and made a new rule to the old law that now incorporates faith as a work, but rather God fulfilled the old system of works and brought a new system altogether. Those that try and make faith a work are trying to add new wine to old wineskins. They are trying to put a new patch on an old garment. (Mark 2:21-22).

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I've spoken with others who've, and I've done this myself, looked for assurance they are saved by focusing narrowly on their faith. The pitfall is this. As Christians we know we are saved by faith, so we zero in on faith. What we fail to see is the bigger picture. We are actually saved by grace (Eph. 2:8) and it is faith that introduces us to grace.


If you were looking for a job at your favorite company and had the opportunity to meet the owner who has the authority to give you the job you so desire, you would be excited! This opportunity could come in a variety of ways, perhaps an interview after you submitted a resume, perhaps someone you knew introduced you to the owner. Regardless, your hope would be that the owner would see you as a good fit and accept you for the position. So you shake hands, you answer the questions, and you leave the interview feeling good about it sure there are some parts you feel could have improved on but overall you feel good about the interview, even a bit confident that you'll get the job given your credentials.


But then... a couple weeks goes by and no phone call. The silence causes you to replay the interview in your mind, now questioning what you were once confident in. Answers you gave which you thought were solid you're now starting to wonder if they were actually well received. It's killing you. You want to know but how can you, what can you do. You don't have the boss's phone number so you can't call him, the friend who introduced you to him is away on vacation, the automated phone system only gives you the option to leave a voice mail.. so what do you do?


Because of the importance of this job, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you can't just sit idly by. This job is everything to you, you know it's the best opportunity you'll ever get and your life will be ruined if you don't make the cut. So full of anxiety you start replaying the interview in your mind over and over trying to glean something from it to convince you that the boss just hasn't made up his mind yet and that he still wants you... but the questions keep coming "what if he doesn't want me", "what if he found out about that thing I did in high school..", "what if I was only interviewed because of equal opportunity laws that require the boss to show that everyone has a fair chance even though they really don't". You just want to know and it's killing you!


If this analogy is starting to make sense, then I'm glad that salvation is important to you. Like the prospective employee in this analogy you've correctly deemed God's kingdom and offer of eternal life to be the best opportunity you'll ever have. However, this is where you (and I) error. When we think faith is an object to behold, we think we can find assurance by confirming we have it. The problem is, faith is not an object to behold but rather it's the Object of our faith that our eyes should be fixed on. When we focus in on faith we try to find assurance by replaying the interview, though no matter how many times we replay it it offers us none. What we really need is a call from the boss. Until then however, because of the value of salvation and the fear of coming up short, we frantically replay the interview in our minds, we call our friends and ask them to provide assurance that really they can't. After all it's not up to them if we get the job. It's not up to them if we are saved. What we really need is a call from the owner.


The interesting thing is, when we focus on faith to provide assurance what we're doing is trying to prove something in the flesh that cannot be seen with the flesh. Faith is spiritual and it's not tangible like a work. While one can look and see the accomplishment of his own works, faith is not a work and it in-and-of-itself accomplishes nothing. Rather it's Christ who accomplishes. Faith accomplishes nothing but rather it trusts in Christ to accomplish (Matt. 5:17). With your eyes on faith as to whether you have it or not would be like Peter trying to look at the waves and reason he can walk on them (Matt. 14:30). Peter could revisit this idea of walking on water many times and as long as he focused on the water he will never have assurance he can walk on it. However, with his eyes on Jesus he found confidence to step out of the boat when Jesus said "Come!" (Matt 14:29).


If you're looking at assurance for assurance then you may be in a similar conundrum. The answer isn't found there. Faith isn't anything and therefore it in-and-of-itself offers you nothing. It's the object of your faith that has value (Matt. 13:44, 46). What you need is a call from the Owner. Scripture instructs us this way,


2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2


Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing (which I elaborate on in this series). So stop listening to your ability to listen and start listening to Christ!


32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. - Luke 12:32


I believe the phrase "through faith" (Eph. 2:8) is one that should be amazing to us that grace comes so easily. Faith isn't always mentioned along side grace in the bible but I believe when it is it's not an equal partner but rather one that should profound us as to how easy it is to receive God's grace. Faith doesn't compete with grace for any splendor, that is due to God alone, but rather the mentioning of faith is a reference to how free grace is! Many will see grace and faith as both workers toward salvation but grace is where all the work is done, faith is merely the receptive avenue, it is the only way of receiving grace freely (Rom. 4:16). Faith shouldn't be looked at as something to behold nor should it gain any attention, but rather it should testify to the all sufficient grace of God. Faith is merely the assurance of grace. Faith should always point to grace, the moment faith garnishes any attention we've misunderstood it's role. Faith should make one marvel over the yoke of Christ, not as one who shares the burden of the yoke, but rather one who recognizes Christ bears the entire workload while we are attached to Him.


28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30

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I've heard those in the church say in terms of walking by the Spirit "let peace be your guide". I believe such a disposition is not only unbiblical but is detrimental to the Christian walk. Really such a saying is the "Christian" version of the worldly saying "follow your heart". Scripture says just the opposite, that we are to walk by faith and not by what we feel, see, or experience (2 Cor. 5:7). Some of us even discredit our having faith because certain feelings are absent. Because we don't feel a certain way we conclude we must lack faith. This too is errant. Proverbs puts it this way:


He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered. - Proverbs 28:26

For example, when you sat down for breakfast this morning how did the chair make you feel? Did you feel joy, peace, excitement about sitting in it, or more likely, did you just sit in it while you were thinking about your food, or the day ahead? Or for that matter, while you ate your oatmeal were you overwhelmed with emotional joy about it? Or did you just eat it? Disclaimer: I hate oatmeal but I eat it. Here's what I'm getting at. Even though I hate oatmeal, when I sit down everyday to eat it I exhibit faith that one, it's not poisoned, two, it's good for me, and three, the chair i'm sitting in will hold me during this time. In all these things I exhibit what scripture defines as faith (Heb. 11:1) "assurance of things hoped for" (i.e. that my food isn't poisoned, and that it's good for me) and "conviction of things not seen" (i.e. that the chair is strong enough, that the company making the oatmeal did it according to US standards for food, etc). Where are my feelings? Well I hate oatmeal and I'm frustrated at how long it takes to eat (you can't scarf plain oatmeal...too awful). My feelings...irritated. Does the presence of my feelings signify the absence of my faith? Not at all. The fact I feel indifferent toward my chair, or even opposing feelings toward my oatmeal doesn't in anyway nullify the trust I'm exhibiting in both.


When God initially reaches us, He often, like immature babes, meets us on the level of feelings to woo us in...and it's great. And one day when we are with Him it will be unimaginable. But right now faith (not feelings) are what are precious to God (1 Pet. 1:7). Why? Well I digress, but because faith opens the door to grace (Rom. 4:16). I believe God actually uses feelings to refine faith for nobody feels good when they are "tested by fire" (1 Pet. 1:7).


Unfortunately today feelings have been given more credit than they should and they've been given authority where they have none. To those with Anxiety & OCD struggles I actually wrote an article on wrestling with this very thing. But we're not alone in our wrestlings, many times in scripture we see Godly men warring with their feelings so we shouldn't be surprised that we are too. We Christians often want to feel our way into faith. We are waiting to feel first, then we will trust. But this is grotesquely out of order. Feelings come after faith, not before. I like how Billy Graham put it, "fact, faith, and feeling. They come in this order, and the order is essential". Elsewhere (in one of his books, if memory serves me) Graham wrote, we walk by faith and feelings will be pulled into alignment. In light of this consider what David wrote.


For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. - 2 Samuel 7:27

As implied, David felt unworthy of such a blessing from God. However after making a deliberate choice to take God at His word David then found courage. Not before. When you see "therefore" in the bible it means what is about to come is originating from what came previously. God said it (fact), David chose to trust God's word (faith), David then found courage (feeling). Courage is an interesting word in itself and it's not to be confused with bravery. Bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger, or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear. Courage, on the other hand, is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the eminent and unavoidable presence of fear. Bravery is an inherent characteristic; it doesn't involve much thinking and manifests itself as second nature in those who are brave, this is unfortunately what many Christians are seeking. Courage is a result of mindfulness, it's an act of the will to press on despite one's fears. This was the state of the Apostle Paul.


I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, - 1 Corinthians 2:3


Paul himself asked God to take away this tormentor (2 Cor. 12:7-8), but God didn't want Paul to be brave, but rather to rely on Christ despite his weaknesses.


Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10


On a side note, I wonder, like Paul, what have you been repeatedly asking for God to change or remove from you? I've spoken to Christians who say things like "If God would only take away this (insert feeling here) then I would be a successful Christian".


Hebrews 11:11-12 speak of the faith of Abraham and his wife Sarah in regards to them having the ability to conceive even though Abraham was a man "and one who was as good as dead". Hebrews 11 is often called the "faith hall of famers" and if so, Abraham is properly among them. Paul in Romans 4:20 wrote this about him:


19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, - Romans 4:19-20

Abraham did not waiver in faith that what God promised He would also be able to do. In contrast consider what was recorded in terms of what was going on in Abraham's heart when God made this promise:


17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man a hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth to a child?” - Genesis 17:17


How is it that we can say Abraham was unwavering in his faith when we read verses like this where he literally laughs and in his heart questions how God's word was to come about given their circumstances. But notice He doesn't doubt that God's word would come about, only he doesn't feel things line up properly that they would so the next verse Abraham says to God "Oh that Ishmael might live before You!". Notice in the above verse where it states "in his heart". Abraham believed God, but his heart felt differently..and that's okay.


Faith then is not a feeling but rather something that can be present regardless of how we feel. We can find this to be true even of Jesus.


38 Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” - Matthew 26:38-39


Luke gives us some additional info.


44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. - Luke 22:44


Thank God He didn't listen to His feelings nor filter His faith through His feelings. It would have been detrimental had Jesus waited to get His feelings under wrap before continuing in faith. Jesus Himself who was always perfectly faithful was emotionally distraught to the point of death. Yet He kept entrusting Himself to God despite those feelings.


Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. - Philippians 2:8


23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; - 1 Peter 2:23


Even with Christ His faith operated even when His feelings were not in alignment. So by this we can conclude two things. One, faith is not a feeling. Two, faith can operate despite the worst of feelings. This is the definition of being courageous.


The word there in Philippians 2:8 for obedient in the original Greek is hupékoos which is an adjective derived from hupakouó which the HELPS Word-studies defines as "properly, to obey what is heard". So in that sense Jesus is taking God at His Word despite His feelings (John 5:19, 5:30, 8:28, 12:49) which we know from the garden that even with Jesus when He was in the flesh, His feelings were not always in alignment with His faith and we can conclude that His faith then was not a feeling nor was it rested on His feelings which we often mistakenly do. This was the same mistake Peter made.


28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:28-31


When Peter heard the command of God "Come!" He took Him at His word and walked on water. But when Peter lost focus of that and his feelings took over, it was only after he became frightened that he began to sink. Peter in a moment of taking God at His word walked on water, but in the next moment of calculating his circumstances no longer took God at His word but listened to the circumstances and became frightened. Notice what Jesus says thereafter "...why did you doubt?". Jesus was addressing Peter's faith. Peter knew the command was valid, after all, he did walk on water (fact) but despite knowing the validity of God's word Peter allowed his circumstances and his feelings to get the better of him. On that note, notice the compassion of God "Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him..." Even when we're being corrected we're in the arms of God.

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I've hinted at this already in my argument against faith being a meritorious work, but now I would like to equally argue that faith isn't merely lumped in with grace but that it plays a different role then grace. Look at these verse that separate grace and faith.


For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 (emphasis mine)


through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. - Romans 5:2 (emphasis mine).


For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” - Romans 4:3 (emphasis mine)


16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, - Romans 4:16 (emphasis mine)


Many will directly attribute faith as a gift no different than God's grace; they lump faith in as being part of God's grace as if it's all exactly the same but it's not. Otherwise these verses I just quoted would be redundant and rambling. If faith was just part of God's grace then Ephesians 2:8 would merely say "For by grace you have been saved" (period) but it doesn't. It adds "...through faith" to the end of that. Yes God does 100% of the saving but it is through faith that the grace comes to us, it is faith that introduces us to grace. I've heard one famous theologian say "Grace is the source, faith is the condition", this is supported by Philippians 3:9 which states "...the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,". Again, as we established above, faith is not a meritorious work but rather it's trusting in the meritorious works of God (His grace) for salvation.


Faith doesn't compete with grace it complements it. Faith doesn't do any of the saving, but rather it is the avenue grace is received. When you see the phrase "through faith" it's one that should amaze us that grace comes so easily, even freely. Faith isn't always mentioned along side grace, but when it is it's not an equal partner as if both were either a work of God or a work of man. Rather grace is entirely the work of God and faith is the door that grace comes through to us. Faith was never meant to gain attention to itself, but rather it was to make a path for the amazing grace of God to come. One who works competes for that splendor but one who gets out of the way (faith) glorifies the Lord and His Amazing grace. The moment faith garnishes any attention we've misunderstood it's role. God's amazing grace is something to behold, faith is not.


The invention of faith or the ability to have faith is a gift of God for sure (Heb. 12:2, Rom. 12:3) and it's one He desires in us (Heb. 11:6) and is available to all men (John 1:7, Acts 11:18, 20:21, Rom. 1:19-21). But unlike grace which comes through faith I believe the ability to have faith is instilled in all men (Acts 7:51, John 12:32, John 1:9, John 16:8, Rev. 22:17). We dive into this in the coming articles.

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Believing that God is, is not the same as believing in God.


20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. - Romans 1:20


Being aware of God and even His Son Jesus does not necessarily constitute faith. Scripture tells us that all have knowledge of God (Rom. 1:20), and even many know who Jesus is. Yet we know that knowledge of Him doesn't make one saved (Matt. 7:22-23, Jam. 2:19). There is a BIG difference between "believing that" and "believing in" God. Believing that God is, this is good, but as James said, even the demons believe that God is one, yet their knowledge of God makes them shudder (Jam. 2:19). If merely believing that God is brought about being saved then everyone would be saved as everyone has knowledge of God (Rom. 1:19-20). There is a big difference between believing that God is and believing in God.


I believe this is what James is getting at when he states faith without works is dead. In the 2nd chapter of James he explains how faith alone ("believing that") without works ("believing in") is dead (Jam. 2:17). Saving faith is more than a knowledge but rather it's knowledge with a response. It's not that we are saved by works, nor do works play in part in our salvation as it's all accomplished by Christ and what He did on the cross, but works are an indicator of someone who "believes in" rather than "believes that". This is the very thing I believe James is warning us about.


An example of the difference between "believing that" and "believing in" can be seen in Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1-5. Being present with the Lord in the garden both had an undeniable knowledge of God therefore both believed that God is. In the course of time both brought offerings to the Lord, Cain from his garden and Abel from His flock. Abel's offering was from the most valuable, choice part of his flock whereas Cain's offering was just a portion like all the rest. The bible tells us that God had regard for Abel and for his offering but for Cain and his offering He had no regard. What's the difference? It's neither the food from the flock nor the produce from the garden as God created both and has no need for anyone to supply Him. It wasn't the offering but rather how it was given. Hebrews 11:4 tells us that "by faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain..." Abel believed in God and in His heart was the desire to bless God. Cain on the other hand responded in anger when God did not regard his offering. Why? Because he wasn't looking to bless God but rather be blessed by God.


Many in the church are there culturally. For example, there is what's called the "Bible belt" comprised of a few states in the southern U.S. Here it is culturally accepted at large to be a Christian and many can talk the talk by don't walk the walk. Others who don't live in the bible belt still are raised in the Christian culture, in Christian homes and within Christian circles. They know the lingo, can quote scripture, yet never entered into a relationship with Jesus. Even Satan quoted scripture to Jesus (Matt. 4:6) and the demons believed God that one day He would send them to their torment (Matt. 8:29).


So we know head knowledge of the truth of God does not make one saved. Now in lieu of what James wrote some of you may be tempted to get busy and start working in order to be saved. James is not preaching salvation by works. He's merely saying works are evidence of a true faith, of one who is believing in God, indwelled with the Holy Spirit. To head out and start working in order to be saved is a grave error (Rom. 10:2-3, Gal. 3:3). Works should be seen as an evidence of faith not a prerequisite for it.


So what is the difference between someone who believes that God is and someone who believes in God?


Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. - Revelation 3:20 (emphasis mine).


Everyone hears His voice (Psa. 19:4, Rom. 10:18) but not everyone opens the door (Rev. 3:20). Many are called but few are chosen (Matt. 22:14).


At this point, some who worry about their salvation are wanting me to divulge the secret to opening the door and getting Jesus to come in, but I say, you've made it much harder than it is and your worry testifies to your want. God didn't lock the door and not give you the key, nor is the door stuck and difficult to open. Likewise Jesus is not reluctantly waiting but rather He is eager to dine with any that welcome Him in (Isa. 30:18, Luke 12:32, 15:20).


It's not an issue of knowledge or lack thereof, it's an issue of they don't want God. It's not that they don't know but rather a deliberate suppression of the truth (Rom. 1:18). A deliberate refusal to open the door. Why would someone suppress the truth? Well, why does anyone ignore truth. Have you ever avoided the scale because you didn't want to know how much you weigh? Have you decided to not go to the doctor because you don't want to know what the diagnosis of your symptoms? Have you ever chosen to not ask a question because you didn't want an answer?


These people avoid the truth of God because it makes them squirm. To welcome God is to welcome exposure.


For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” - John 3:21


Godly people are transparent people. It's not that they don't have sin, it's that they don't run from light. It's not that they don't have sin, it's that they would rather have God. These people delight to pray like David prayed:


Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life. - Psalm 139:23-24 (MSG)


Some people don't want to open the door. They keep themselves busy to avoid an honest self reflection. Instead of confronting reality they run to anything else even using things like drugs, alcohol, and other addictions as a means to escape reality. Nobody ever perishes for a lack of knowledge but rather they perish for refusing to open the door. We see evidence of this in the story Jesus shared of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Abraham's Bosom (Luke 16:19-31). The Rich Man who has died and is in a place of torment asks if Lazarus could be sent to warn his five brothers so they will not suffer the same horrific fate as he.


27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” - Luke 16:27-31



It's not that they don't have the truth, it's that they closed their eyes. It's not that they can't hear, it's that they close their hearts to it. Such people will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.


For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’ - Matt. 13:15


How many times Jesus performed miracles, wonderful heart warming miracles, but some who saw these miracles with their own eyes would rather use the miracles as an excuse to accuse Him because of a perceived technicality than face the reality of the presence of God among them. They don't want God, they don't want a relationship with Him, they are just mad at Him because His holiness stands in the way of their desires. Such state of heart angers God, but it also grieves Him (Mark 3:5).


Today there are people inundated within "Christianese" who exist within Christian circles. Like the Pharisees and Jews looking to accuse Jesus there are those in the "Christian club" that can talk the talk, they know the stories, they believe of God but they don't necessarily want Him. They want His hand-outs, but they don't want Who's attached to the hand. They want the gifts but not the Giver. They're trying to have their foot in both camps. However when hardships arise and believing means giving up their comfort and security they fall away. And when pursuing God means leaving behind the world they hop tracks (Matt. 6:24).


These are the ones I believe James referred to as double-minded (Jam. 1:8). They know God, but they don't want God. They hear Jesus calling, but... they have other priorities on their heart (Luke 14:18-20). It's not merely a Christian struggling with doubts but rather someone who isn't sure they want to be a Christian. They may put their hands to the plow, but they look back as their desires are not there (Luke 9:62, Gen. 19:26). God pursues such people (2 Cor. 5:20), and Jesus reasons with them "for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Mark. 8:36) but some simply won't be persuaded (Luke 16:31).


So how does one open the door? There's no tricks, no secret, no special prayer to pray, simply if you want Him to come in, ask (period).


Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. - Matthew 7:7


If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” - Luke 11:13

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When you ask believers what is faith, most of the answers I hear explain a Christian's faith, such as "Faith is trusting in Christ", "Faith is receiving God's gift of salvation". While those statements are true, they are specifically related to the faith of a Christian, those statements do not define faith at it's base. Fortunately the writer of Hebrews lays out the answer to this question of what is faith plainly in Hebrews 11:1.


Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1


There it is, your exact and full, from God, definition of what faith is. Notice Christ is not mentioned in this definition. Don't get me wrong, faith in Christ is of utmost importance and is the difference between being saved and not. The author here is giving a definition of faith at it's element, trust, it is placing that faith in Christ that God credits to us salvation (Rom. 4:3, Gal. 3:6).


So look closely at Hebrews 11:1 definition of faith. Could that definition be applied to non-believers? Yes it could. Think about it. Do not all men have assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things not seen? I'm going to be a bit extreme here but don't believers and non-believers alike feel assured that gravity won't suddenly stop working? Nobody has 100% proof that it won't but yet I can honestly say I've never come across a man that had preparations ready in the event that gravity ceases to stop pulling them down. Such a person then trusts in gravity.


A less extreme example would be when we eat. Do we not have assurance that the food we eat is not poisoned or else why would we eat it? Yet we eat with conviction that our food hasn't been poisoned. (I know some of you are thinking of extreme examples of people who are unreasonably paranoid and go through abnormal measures to guard against people doing malicious things with their food, I guess we could say of them that such a person has "lost faith in humanity".)


What I'm getting at is all men have faith as defined in Hebrews 11:1, that does not mean that all men have faith in Jesus. Those that have their faith appropriately in God do (Gen. 22:8, Rom. 10:9), while those like the demons who have their faith inappropriately (James 2:19-20) do not. Abraham exhibited his faith in God prior to Christ's coming and still it was credited to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). On the contrary, Jesus rebuked the Jews for misplacing their faith in such is in Abraham (John 8:39, Matt. 3:9), their lineage (John 8:41, cf Rom 9:8), works (cf Rom. 2:17-29), and even in scripture, thinking scripture itself was the source of life, when in fact scripture was testifying of Christ being the source of life.


39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. - John 5:39-40


Be it wrong, these men had "assurance of things hoped for". They had assurance (faith) that scripture would impart to them life, just like others had faith in their lineage and in their performance, but as it is here that is misplaced faith and therefore not leading to salvation. Why? Because the object of their faith was not actually able to accomplish it, not their lineage, not their works, and not even scripture. They chose to place their faith in scripture itself instead of heeding scripture and it's testimony of Jesus.


Even atheist have faith. In fact, many would say it takes more faith to be an atheist than a Christian as the evidence when looked at truthfully is stacked against them. I know I'm opening a door to another debate here but what I'm getting at is, listen to an atheist and you will see at the root of their belief system is an object unseen given them assurance, beit morbid, that they won't have accountability for their unloving actions here on earth. They have assurance that it does not matter what they do because though they don't see it, they believe there is no afterlife. On a side note, I would argue they are choosing this (Rom. 1:20) because it's what they want (John 3:19).


Faith that leads to salvation is one that trusts in God. Scripture says "Abraham believed God", it does not merely say "Abraham believed". (Though if it had we would know it was God in whom He believed (Gen. 15:5-6, Gen. 22:8).) Saving faith takes God at His word (Gen. 15:5-6). Believing in God is synonymous with receiving Christ (John 1:12, 5:43-44) resulting in salvation. Notice in John 5:40 above where it states these men were "unwilling" to come, not unable. They had the ability to come to Christ (Acts 17:30) but deliberately were choosing not to. It's not that they don't have the ability to have faith, but are unwilling to align themselves with Jesus. Much like Romans 1:18-20 which states that men, though clearly perceiving the things of God and without excuse having a knowledge of God and His attributes, choose not to trust or receive Him but instead suppress the truth. Likewise these men chose to trust in scripture, to trust in knowledge (1 Cor 1:22-23), and not in Jesus. Like these men we have faith, we have knowledge, but unlike these men we don't expect scripture to impart life but we trust in Jesus whom scripture testifies about. We've chosen not to suppress the truth but to receive it. That is the difference. Everyone has faith as Hebrews 11:1 defines, but for various reasons not all are willing to put that faith in Jesus.


Faith in and of itself has no value, no merit. The value of faith is in it's object. If faith saved then it wouldn't matter what your faith is in. But as we've explored here, it's not having faith (void of proper placement) that saves, but rather what your faith is in that matters and as Christians we know that to be Jesus Christ! This is why a mustard seed of faith can move mountains (Luke 17:5-6, Matt. 17:20). Not because our faith is powerful, but because a mustard seed of faith, be it small, still genuinely trusts in Christ who is powerful!

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Before I even start in on this, let me ask, how did faith in Christ come to you? This is an honest question. If I sat down and heard your testimony, what events led up to you receiving Christ?


Ok now let's dive. As I mentioned above, faith ultimately is a system that God has gifted to mankind, to all of us. While I'll argue below that our willingness is crucial, right now let's break down what scripture says in regards to the origin of saving faith.


17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17 (emphasis mine)


31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:31 (emphasis mine)


These are pretty straight forward. Christ often said "He who has ears, let him hear" (Matt. 11:15, 13:9, Rev. 2:29, 3:13) and on the contrary spoke of not getting through to those who have become dull of hearing (Heb. 5:11, Matt. 13:15). It is with this understanding of faith coming by hearing the word of Christ that Paul writes in Romans 10:14 the following (though I'm adding the verses before which lay a proper foundation to the question and what we've been speaking of here.)


11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? - Romans 10:11-14


Faith is a gift of God, likewise is the ability to choose (1 Cor. 4:7, John 7:17, 1 Cor. 7:37, 39, Philemon 14). God gifts us with His word, and using our will that God has gifted to us we respond to it (2 Cor. 5:11, Rom. 2:4, Rev. 3:20)...or not (John 1:12, 5:39-40, Luke 13:34, Rom. 10:12-13, 2 Pet. 3:3-5, Rom 1:18-20, Rom. 10:21, Acts 7:51, Rom. 11:15).

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14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? - Romans 10:11-14


The equation is this. We call on Him whom we believe, we believe on Him whom we've heard of, we heard of Him by way of a preacher. So what about those who are never preached to? I would argue that everyone has been preached too.


19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. - Romans 1:19-21


Creation itself preaches to men, sent by God (v19) to the point that His power and divine nature have clearly been made known by these preachers (v20, cf Psa. 19:1-2) so they are without excuse. These men actually reached a point of knowing God (v21) but it's what they chose to do with that knowledge which is pivotal. And of these men it says they chose not to honor God. But rather they "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (v18), "exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man...birds...creatures" (v23) "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie" (25) "they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer..." (v28).


It's not that men are unaware, but rather they make a deliberate choice. In the case of these men above they chose to "suppress", "exchange", and to disregard the message preached to them. However some are recorded as heeding the message of God before the gospel of Jesus Christ was fully revealed. Here's some to name a couple.


Abraham was preached too before the gospel of Jesus Christ was made fully manifest and what does it say about him? "Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." (Gen. 15:6).


Job heard the message preached by nature and it says of him "There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil." - Job 1:1


And one more (though there are others) from the new testament.


14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. - Acts 16:14


Lydia was a worshiper of God before ever being spoken to by Paul.


Maybe some of you were raised in a Christian home or a home professing God from your birth but for those of you that weren't, did you remember being aware of God before anyone brought you the gospel? I do. I remember being very young (guesstimating 8-9 yo) sitting in my front yard examining the muscles in my legs and arms and how they bent my elbows and knees and I was thinking to myself that this (my body) was an impressive invention.

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The answer to this is found in Romans 4:16:


16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, - Romans 4:16


In other words, because it is a righteousness by faith it becomes sure as indicated by the word "guaranteed". Why are we saved by faith? Because then our salvation wouldn't depend upon us and our works but upon God "in accordance with grace". If we are righteous because of our works and good deeds or by following a list of rules then what happens if we fail to perform or break a rule? We become unrighteous. God would not have it! Salvation was to important of a matter to God for it to be contingent upon our performance. If it was contingent upon our performance we could do good maybe 4 days out of the week but on the 5th day blow it royally. So God has made it by grace so that it is sure, it's certain. So then it doesn't depend on my faithfulness to God but it now depends on God's faithfulness to me. And because my relationship with God depends on His faithfulness to His word, His promise, I have a sure relationship! I can come anytime, the door is never closed. When I blow it royally, when I fail miserably I can still come anytime because God isn't imputing inequity to me, God isn't taking into account my sin (Rom. 4:8). Our salvation is a guaranteed thing because it rests entirely on Him and His accomplishments (John 19:30).

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I believe this can be best explained by the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13:1-9, and explained by Jesus in Matthew 13:18-23.


And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” - Matthew 13:1-9


18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” - Matthew 13:18-23


The gift of the seed went out, the word has been sown. The problem is not a lack of the seed going out but rather the soil it landed in. Every one of us fits into one of these categories. Every one of us was/is soil but depending on our condition will determine if the seed will bring forth fruit. Scripture elsewhere elaborates on the condition of the various soils and gives examples. Let me share some of those verses with you.


23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” - Matthew 19:23-24


They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. - Mark 3:2


21 Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” - Matthew 8:21


18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ 19 Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ - Luke 14:18-20


And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. - Matthew 22:3-6


and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. - Matthew 3:9


Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, - 2 Peter 3:3-5


18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, - Romans 1:18


Go to this people and say,
You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
27 For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes;
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.”’ - Acts 28:26-27


40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. - John 5:40


51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. - Acts 7:51


10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. - 2 Thessalonians 2:10


34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! - Luke 13:34


It's interesting because in each of these instances it wasn't an inability nor a lack of invitation to come, but rather a suppression of the truth as Romans 1 describes, a deliberate choice to not respond to the invitation.


9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. - Romans 10:9-10


The word heart is mentioned over 800 times in scripture and not once is it referring to the pump in our body that moves blood. In the verse above heart refers to decision core of a person. The original Greek here is the word 'kardia' which refers literally to 'the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center'. Kardia according to the HELPS Word-studies defines it as: heart; "the affective center of our being", "the capacity of moral preference", "volitional desire", "desire-producer that makes us tick", "our "desire-decisions" that establish who we really are".

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