He Holds My Tomorrows
Many believers are aware that we are called to walk by Faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) and that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). However, it seems to me that many do not truly understand just what FAITH is.
What Faith isn’t:
i) Belief is not faith. “Even the devils believe.”
ii) Presumption is not faith.
iii) Hope is not faith.
iv) Positive Thinking is not faith.
There is much confusion about the meaning of “faith”. How can it be ‘defined’?
Again, what is a ‘work of faith’ (1 Thess 1:3 KJV) or a ‘walk of faith’ (2 Cor 5:7)? These questions I hope to answer.
Paul declares several times that we are “justified by faith” (eg; Ephesians 2:8,9 and Romans). James declares that “faith without works is dead” (2:17). Some who side with Paul (or, rather, their interpretation of Paul) consider that James has no place in Holy Writ! Others would side with James (or their interpretation of James), classifying all Pauline believers with such derogatory terms as “fundamentalists”.
Even the words of Jesus enter the controversy! To Nicodemas He said those wonderful words of John 3:16 implying that salvation is by ‘believing’. However, when He commissioned His disciples to go preach the good news, He added, “whosoever believes, and is baptized, shall be saved (Mark 16:16). Paul adds further, “If you confess … and believe .. you shall be saved (Rom 10:9).
So is faith believing, or is it trusting, or confessing, or being baptized, or ….?
Even the translators of the King James version showed their confusion when, in Hebrews 10:23, they write “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith … “translating the Greek word elpis as faith, when it is translated as hope everywhere else. Indeed, faith and hope are regularly confused by the average believer! Hope has far more to do with believing than faith does!
In the Scriptures I find THREE ‘kinds’ of Faith:
FRUIT OF FAITH
GIFT OF FAITH.
Saving 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).
This is the experience of all who have been ‘born again’ – born of the Spirit. We who were blind to God, walking in the darkness of our own sinfulness, have received grace that opened our eyes to His wonderful salvation. One definition of grace is unmerited favour, but I like this one: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. This grace gift has to be received by faith. However, even this is a gift from God. I cannot believe with faith unless God gives me the ability to do so! This is believing with the heart rather than with the head.
Fruit of Faith: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22,23).
Fruit doesn’t grow very quickly – it takes time to mature. Furthermore, we cannot produce it ourselves however much effort we make. The Psalmist David wrote: The righteous man is like a tree planted by streams of water, that brings forth fruit in his season (Ps 1).
Many believers see themselves as ‘trees’ but they spend too much time examining themselves for evidence of fruit. We would do much better if we looked inward to the trunk of the tree, the source of all the nourishment that the branches receive. We would do better to turn our eyes upon Jesus, the true vine into which we have been grafted. Then the fruit would grow and others would see it – in its season.
Gift of Faith: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit thereby … to another, faith by the same Spirit…” (1 Corinthians 12:7,9).
This gift of faith is one of the ‘charismata’ given by the Holy Spirit to the church to enable her to function with power. There are many gifts listed for us in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. Such gifts are given to the church and operate whenever and wherever the Spirit wishes them to do so. No man has a gift for himself – it is for the edifying of the church.
As I look at all three ‘kinds’ of FAITH I am struck by this fact: All have their source in God – not in the believer! There is nothing I can do to produce faith in myself, so please don’t tell me to “have more faith” when you see me sick or struggling in my Christian walk. What I need to develop is more hope, not faith!
If you would choose some Biblical characters to exemplify faith, whom would you choose?
Caleb - who wanted to fight giants? Elisha - who stood against all the prophets of Baal? Daniel – who publicly prayed knowing it might cost him his life? It is interesting to see those whom the Bible notes as examples of faith. None of the above!
Paul gives us Abraham (Rom 4); James also gives Abraham but adds a second – Rahab (2:25) – a harlot!!? But the author of Hebrews also includes her! If that surprises you, wait till you see whom Jesus chooses!
Only 6 people were commended by the Lord for their faith. None of them were His disciples, at least three were not Jews, one was a leper, another had been sick for many years, one was blind, three declared themselves ‘unworthy’ and all were sinners!
The Roman Centurion (Matt 8:5-13)
The woman with a hemorrhage (Mark 5:25-34)
The Canaanite woman (Matt 15:22-28)
Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52)
The woman in Simon’s house (Luke 7:37-50)
The tenth leper (Luke 17:11-19)
In all six examples, faith was evidenced and fulfilled, in obedience.
So, let me define FAITH for you: Faith is God’s finger in the hearts of men and women, moving them to do His will. It is an attribute of the heart and is evidenced in obedience.
(Similarly, HOPE is an attribute of the mind and is evidenced in confidence. It was for the hope of the resurrection that Paul could stand before Agrippa and Felix – Acts 26:6. He knew that he knew that he knew!)
Now consider Hebrews Chapter 11 in this light and see how each ‘example’ is of a man or woman who were led by an inner revelation/prompting to walk – in faith – as He directed them.
And do not neglect to see that even those who suffered great torments were ‘walking in faith’!
“Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all through the blood; Some through great trial but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.” G A Young.
Could one write your name in Hebrews 11? By faith, (your name) is going through this present valley of pain because the father wants to make him/her more like His Son, Jesus? His purpose is to bring you through in victory!
Victoria BC Sept 2013