What is Faith?
Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
What is faith? It is trust, confidence, devotion, commitment, conformity, loyalty, faithfulness, and trustworthiness. It is a gift from God, and it means to be persuaded by God as to the will of God. It involves us hearing God’s voice whereby we embrace God’s preferred will, i.e. what he chooses for us.
I believe a lot of confusion comes into play regarding faith because it has been taught very weakly for a long while now. Many teachers of the faith have removed Scriptures from their context, and they have built their doctrines of salvation around a few cherry picked Scriptures taken out of context, and this is where we run into problems. Or they present “faith” as nothing more than a one-time decision to receive Jesus into our hearts.
Yet, if we look at what faith means in the Bible we realize that faith means divine persuasion as to the will of God for our lives. For, we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father draws us to Christ, and Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith, and the faith to believe in Jesus is not of ourselves, but it is a gift of God (Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2).
So, if faith means we are persuaded of God, and if faith originates with Jesus, and it is perfected by Jesus, and if this is God’s gift to us and it is not of ourselves, then “faith” is going to submit to God’s will and purposes for our lives. It is going to die with Christ to sin and live to God and to his righteousness. It is going to walk with him in obedience. And it is going to surrender to Jesus as Lord, or it is not God-given and divinely persuaded faith, but is of the flesh of mankind, instead.
[Heb 5:9; Jn 3:36; Lu 9:23-26; Acts 5:32; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:24; 1 Pet 1:2; Jn 10:27; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Gal 6:7-8; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rom 1:5; Eph 2:10; Jas 1:21-25; Jas 2:14-26; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19-20]
Faith is Present Tense
John 3:16 (BLB)
“For God so loved the world that He gave the only begotten Son, so that everyone believing in Him should not perish, but should have eternal life.”
Also, where the Bible talks about believing in Jesus, most always the word is “believing,” which is present tense. This is not a past belief only. We don’t “believe” and now we are saved from our sins and now heaven is secured us no matter how we live from that moment forward.
Belief and actions are always coupled together, like in Hebrews 11. Without actions that go along with that faith our faith is dead. So, all who are believing (present tense) in Jesus will not perish but have eternal life. But believing is evidenced as true faith by our actions which follow. James did a good job of describing this in James 2:14-26.
And if you read Paul’s writings, he is presenting faith as present tense and involving our actions and that if our actions do not reflect that faith then true faith does not exist. The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who WALK not according to the flesh but who WALK according to the Spirit (Romans 8). So, faith is present tense, and it is active, and it involves obedience, repentance, and submission to Christ as Lord.
For, we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns when our salvation will be complete, providing that we walk in obedience to our Lord, and we forsake our sinful practices, and that we continue in Christ until the very end. This is what the Scriptures teach.
[Jn 8:31-32; Rom 11:17-24; 1 Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6, 14-15; 1 John 2:24-25; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14]
Die to Sin, Live to God
1 Peter 2:24 (BSB)
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. ‘By His stripes you are healed.’”
Jesus didn’t say we just had to have faith. He said if we are going to come after him we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die with him to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and for the flesh) we will lose them for eternity but if we lose our lives for his sake (die with him to sin), we will have life in him.
And this parallels over to his teaching about how we must drink his blood and eat his flesh if we want to have eternal life with him. For, his flesh represents his body that died on that cross in putting sin to death, and his blood was shed on the cross for us so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin and so we could now honor him with our lives.
So, they symbolize our need to be crucified with Christ in death to sin and to be raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness and our need to forsake our sinful practices to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his ways.
So, Jesus most always described faith in terms of our commitment to him, of us leaving mother, father, etc. to follow him, and of us not looking back once we have our hands to the plow, etc. He made it abundantly clear what was required of us to have salvation from sin and eternal life with him. We must die with him to sin daily and live daily to him and to his righteousness in walks of obedience to him.
[Lu 9:23-26, 62; Lu 14:25-33; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 10:27; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:5; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 10:16-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 1:2; Tit 2:11-14]
But the One Who Does the Will of God
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
The Scriptures do not teach “once saved always saved.” They do not teach that we can prayer a prayer to receive Jesus Christ into our hearts and that heaven is now guaranteed us regardless of how we live our lives from that moment forward. Those who teach this are not teaching the gospel in its fullness or in context.
The Scriptures teach that we must walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and that we must no longer walk in sin but that we must now walk in righteousness, and that sin should no longer be what we practice for Jesus Christ delivered us from our slavery to sin so we can now live as servants of the Lord and of his righteousness.
They teach that if we obey the Lord we will never see death and that we will have eternal life, but that if we don’t obey the Lord we don’t know Jesus and we will face the wrath of God. And the Lord has always seen obedience as faith and disobedience as unbelief.
Also, the Scriptures teach that we will be judged by our works. If we don’t obey the truth, but we obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. If we are slaves to sin, it will end in death, but if we are slaves of obedience, it leads to righteousness which then ends in eternal life. If we sow to please the flesh, it will end in destruction, but if we sow to please the Spirit, it will end in eternal life.
So, please know that not everyone who confesses or who professes Jesus Christ as Lord is going to end up in heaven one day. If we don’t die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, but we continue to live in sin and to live for ourselves, he is going to tell us plainly that he never knew us and that we are to depart from him.
[Rom 8:1-17; Rom 6:1-23; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Gal 5:16-21; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 3:36; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:16; 2 Thes 1:7-8; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Lu 9:23-26; Lu 9:62; Lu 14:25-33; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Co 6:9-10; Eph 5:3-6; Matt 7:21-23]
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
(by Thomas O. Chisholm)
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