And Without Faith

Hebrews 11:6 ESV

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

This word “faith,” in the original Greek, is “pistis.” It means belief, trust, confidence, fidelity and faithfulness. And, it means to be persuaded by God, and it is a gift from God, not of ourselves. And, it means to be divinely persuaded as to what God prefers, “i.e. the persuasion of His will” (1).

And, this fits with “agape” love, which means to prefer what God prefers; to prefer to live through Christ, embracing God’s will (2).

We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to him (Jn. 6:44). And, this faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-10). And, since it also means to be divinely persuaded as to God’s will, those who have such faith in Jesus Christ will submit to the will of God for their lives. Thus, they will leave their lives of sin behind them to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

And, faith involves pleasing God, too. And, here are some Scriptures which tell us the importance of living to please God, too: Rom. 8:8; 2 Co. 5:9; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:1; 1 Jn. 3:22.

And, with regard to drawing near to God, this reminds me of Jesus’ words when he said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross DAILY, and follow (obey) Jesus. For, he said, if we hold on to our old lives (of living in sin) that we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), for the sake of his name, then we will have eternal life with him (Lu. 9:23-26; cf. Rom. 8:1-17).

Hebrews 11:7 ESV

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”

Did you know that Hebrews 11 is considered to be the “faith chapter” of the Bible? So, it is to be the chapter we go to in order to know what faith in our Lord looks like, right? And, so what does it reveal to us? What does it tell us about faith? It tells us that faith is not just something we believe in our minds or in our hearts, but it is the reality of that faith being lived out through our lives.

For example, what would have happened if Noah declared to have faith in God, but if he didn’t do what God said? What if he didn’t build the ark, and so none of their lives were saved – no people, no animals, and no birds? Would you say he had faith? Would you say he had reverent fear of God?

A lot of people today have a very loose interpretation of the word “faith,” and thus they are teaching that it is just some kind of intellectual assent to who Jesus Christ was, and to what he did when he died on that cross for our sins. Some even water it down to less than that, such as some words repeated after someone else, or some emotional feeling.

But, like (agape) love is what we do, not what we feel, i.e. it is obedience to Christ, so it is with faith. The two are intertwined. We don’t “do” to get faith, or to get salvation, but the gift of faith involves what we do, for that is the evidence that our faith is genuine. It is proved genuine by what we do in obedience to our Lord (1 Pet. 1:7-9; Eph. 2:10; Tit. 2:11-14).

Hebrews 11:24-26 ESV

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”

Again, our examples of faith here are of people obeying the Lord, and doing what he told them to do. They believed, and then their actions gave evidence to the fact that their faith was genuine.

And, their faith is what gave them the assurance that their actions, in obedience to the Lord, would result in whatever it was God had promised them, too. And, sometimes they didn’t even know what the end result was going to be, but they trusted God and did what he said to do, and they pleased God by their obedience.

Yet, a lot of people claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, but it is not genuine faith, for it does not result in obedience to our Lord, thus it is not pleasing to God. For, they have this idea that faith is just some acknowledgement of Jesus, or some acceptance of his forgiveness or of his grace, but that nothing else is required of them.

But, those who are teaching that faith in Jesus Christ requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ, and no submission to his will, are distorting the gospel of our salvation. They are cutting the gospel short, and they are darkening the truth of God’s Word to make it more acceptable and appealing to the flesh of humans.

Hebrews 11:36-37 ESV

“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated.”

Think with me about all the stories in the Bible where people who believed in God, in Jesus Christ, were mistreated for their faith in Jesus Christ. We can begin with the prophets, and then move to John the Baptist, and to Jesus Christ, and then to his New Testament apostles.

What was it about their faith that made them hated and thus mocked, flogged, falsely accused, falsely imprisoned, and killed for their faith?

It was not just their verbal confessions of faith in God/in Jesus Christ. It was what they did by faith in Jesus Christ; by faith in God. For, they confronted sin in sinful humans, they exposed the fruitless deeds of darkness, they called for repentance and obedience to God/to Christ, and they warned of divine judgment if the people did not repent and obey the Lord. And, they lived holy lives, separate from the world.

Jesus also confidently exclaimed who he was, and he lived what he said he believed, and he lived who he said he was. He was no hypocrite. And, he didn’t follow the ways of man nor their traditions nor their man-made rules. He followed the law of love, and he taught, not just the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law, which was often even more strict, such as what he taught about adultery.

He was hated for being genuine, for loving others, and for loving the Father and walking in obedience to the Father. And he was hated, because he didn’t live like the people of the world, and he didn’t fit in with them, but he lived a holy life, separate (unlike, different) from the world. And, he said that we, if we follow after him, will be hated in the same way.

Genuine Faith

So, genuine faith in Jesus Christ is not some words we repeat, nor some intellectual assent to who Jesus was, nor some mere acceptance of his forgiveness and his grace. Genuine faith in Jesus Christ is proved by what we do in obedience to our Lord. It is us living what we say we believe.

For, Jesus didn’t die on that cross just so we could die one day and go to heaven. He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, he died to deliver us out of our slavery to sin and to empower us to walk daily in his righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

And, he says that if we walk (in practice, in lifestyle, in conduct) according to (in agreement with) our flesh, that we are going to die in our sins. But, if we walk according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-26; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8).

So, faith in Jesus Christ is not what we feel but what we do in obedience to our Lord. It is proved genuine by our actions, not by our professions. It is not of our flesh, but it is of God, and thus it submits to God and to his will for our lives.

So, yes, we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, which is not of ourselves, but which is a gift from God. But that gift of God instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).

So, don’t buy into the cheap grace gospel which tells you that you can be “saved” and have heaven guaranteed you, but that how you live doesn’t matter to God. And, so it gives you free license to continue living in sin without guilt. For, this is a lie. And, it isn’t of God, but of Satan, who wants you still trapped in sin and bound for hell. So, believe the truth which will set you free from your slavery to sin. And, walk in obedience to your Lord.

O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth

Author: Samuel Medley (1789)

O could I speak the matchless worth,
O could I sound the glories forth
Which in my Savior shine,
I’d soar, and touch the heav’nly strings,
and vie with Gabriel while he sings
in notes almost divine,
in notes almost divine.

I’d sing the precious blood he spilt,
my ransom from the dreadful guilt
of sin, and wrath divine:
I’d sing his glorious righteousness,
in which all perfect, heav’nly dress
my soul shall ever shine,
my soul shall ever shine…

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