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Faith

How do the Scriptures establish the necessity of faith?

 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”  Galatians 3: 11

 For what does the Scripture say?  “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”  Romans 4: 2

 I said therefore to you; that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall dies in your sins (John 8: 24)

 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to Him must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him

(Hebrews 11: 6)

 

Even though faith is necessary for salvation, what limitations are recognized in the Scriptures?

 The following limitations are noted:

 

What is faith?

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

Faith is defined in terms of assurance and conviction.  Faith is the assurance and conviction that those things hoped for but not seen, really exist and are waiting for us because God and Jesus exist and have truly spoken to us in the word.

 Faith is agreement or assent to the truth of certain propositions about God, which when combined with the love of God is energized or motivated to obey God’s commandments to repent and be baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of sin.

 

What does systematic theology recognize about faith?

 Systematic theology usually recognizes three elements of faith

 

Is the systematic theological view of faith consistent with Biblical faith?

 Notitia- (body of knowledge), that which must be believed?

 We must believe:

 Assensus- mental assent

The Bible recognizes that some in the Scriptures believe but did not progress in their belief.  In (John 12: 42, 43) many of the rulers believed in Jesus but did not confess Him because of the Pharisees, loving the approval of men rather than the approval of God.  In (James 2: 19) the demons believed and shudder but were not thereby saved.  In (John 2: 23-25) many believed because of the signs He performed but Jesus did not entrust Himself to them.   Since these three groups “believed,” Plain Talk, concludes they believed at the assent level.

 But in addition there appears to be another level of faith before fiducia.  In (John 1: 12, 13) we read that some received Christ by believing in His name.  These people apparently were not thereby saved, for we read that they were given the right or power to become children of God.  Plain Talk holds that God begot them, and the word (the seed) was implanted in their hearts.  (James 1: 18, 21; 1 Peter 1: 23)  In (Acts 6: 7) we read that a great number of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.  Their faith, before they obeyed is the second level of faith.  It is faith combined with love.

 Fiducia- trust, saving faith

This is the perfected faith of which James speaks.  (James 2: 14- 26) It is the faith that Paul says works through love.  (Galatians 5: 6)  This faith, through love, repents and obeys are Lord’s command to be baptized for the remission of sin.  At this time God conveys His grace to the believer and they are justified, saved and given eternal life.  This is the effective faith that we read of in John 3: 16, Ephesians 2: 8 and many other places.

 

 

What is the Biblical concept of faith? 

Faith- we believe when we assent to the truth of these propositions.  God has graciously determined to reckon faith for righteousness.

 

Love- when faith is combined with love, faith is activated and energized to draw us to God and to produce the obedience of faith.

 

Obedience of Faith- obedience completes and perfects faith so that it is fitted to accomplish its purposes and be reckoned for righteousness.  Repentance, confession and baptism are the factors, given to us by God, to perfect our faith.

 

Is faith a gift of God or a response of man or both? 

Gift of God

(John 6: 29)

 

A response of man

(Romans 10: 10)

(Romans 10: 17)

 

It is seems clear to me that faith is both a gift of God and a response of man.  Faith is a gift to a prepared heart.  This we do when we are convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment by the Holy Spirit acting through the word.  God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  When these factors come together, God working in conjunction with us, we receive the gift of faith. This should not surprise us for we are told to work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  (Philippians 2: 12-13) This puts the process in proper perspective, for we in know way intend to imply that we are equal partners; our part is accompanied by fear and trembling.  But we reject the idea that man has no part in this process.  Sadly, many reject God’s overture to us.  (Romans 10: 21; Luke 13: 34)

 

Does faith, itself, save us? 

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

 No, we are saved by the grace of God; Grace is the basis of salvation.  Faith, itself, does not save us but faith is the connection to grace (Romans 5: 2) At this level we should not and cannot substitute “works,” “obedience,” “baptism”, “sacrament” or any other thing for grace.  At the same time we must recognize that faith alone is dead and useless and faith without love is nothing.

 

Can works introduce and connect us with grace?  

Certainly not. If salvation is on the basis of works then salvation is a debt that God owes to those that work and grace is no longer a favor.  (Romans 11: 6)

 

Does this mean that obedience is not a factor in salvation?  No, it does not for at least two reasons.

 First:

Second:

 

How about the so-called prayer of faith?

 In the Scriptures, there is no indication of entering into a relationship with Christ through the prayer of faith.  Saul (the Apostle Paul) prayed three days, neither eating nor drinking.  If prayer had saved anyone, he would have. Yet when Ananias came to him, he told Paul to arise and be baptized washing away your sins.  Paul was still in his sins after praying three days (Acts 9: 6-16; James 5: 15; Galatians 3: 26-28; Romans 6: 1-6)

 

When does faith become effective in regard to salvation?

 When faith is perfected or completed, motivated by love.  This is a gift of God to us because we know precisely when God works in our lives.  God told Abraham, who was about to take the life of Isaac, “for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”  (Genesis 22: 12; James 2: 22, 23)

 

Is faith synonymous with credulity?

 No, faith is trust, informed trust, reasonable trust; faith is based on sufficient evidence to arrive at a conclusion.  The Scriptures are the recorded personal testimony of eyewitness.  In many cases this testimony was sealed with their blood.

 

What is the difference between faith and knowledge?

Knowledge is some truth that can be proved in some direct way, while faith is holding to a proposition that can not be proved directly, but has sufficient evidence of an indirect kind to justify the belief.  Our courts often use indirect evidence to adjudicate life and death issues.

 

Is faith a blind leap?

 Faith may be considered a leap because it is a momentous decision, but Biblical faith is never blind but always based on adequate evidence.  Those who use these derogatory terms do so to disparage faith.  But these people jump into their cars everyday and drive like the wind based upon faith that the person who is coming toward then at sixty miles an hour is licensed, has a car that will not malfunction and knows the law about driving in lanes.  These people will open a can of string beans and eat them all in faith that the distributor has followed sanitary practices without regard to possible botulism.  We all live by faith whether we admit it or not.

 

How do we come to faith?

 In the beginning God gave various spiritual gifts according to the will of the Spirit.  I don’t pretend to understand these gifts, as they appear to be supernatural.  God apparently zapped some and they found themselves endowed with certain gifts.  But this was a temporary arrangement that was destined to pass away.  We are told that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God.  The power of God unto salvation is the gospel of Christ.  This power is love.  It opens our heart to the word of God.  God so loved the world that He gave His Son.  Jesus said there is no greater love than giving you life for another.  This is precisely what He did.  Faith is received when we attend to the things in God’s word and do not dismiss them.  As we continue to attend, God works in our hearts, to produce faith.  Faith is a gift of God, given to an open, prepared and attentive heart.

 

God Bless.

Arland  Pafford  

 

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Last Update   09/26/12