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The Levels and Limitations

 of Biblical Faith

 

 

 

Biblical faith is understandable, we believe, only when the levels and limitations are considered. Are we saved at the first moment of faith?  Many believe and teach that very thing.  Do the Scriptures give examples of people who believed but were apparently not saved?  Are we saved without the greatest value, loving God?  How does love fit into the picture?  These are some of the questions this article addresses.  As we try to answer these questions, we do not want to diminish faith in any way; by the grace of God faith cleanses from sin, justifies, saves and results in eternal life.  But we do want to understand biblical faith as it is revealed in the Scriptures, not in popular theology.

 

What are the levels of faith?

 

Faith exists at these levels:

·         Assent level

·         Received or implanted level

·         Perfected level

 

What is the assent level of faith?

 Faith involves the assent or agreement to the truth of certain propositions about God.  This is primarily a mind thing.

 Give an example of the assent level.

 In John 2: 22- 25 many believed when then saw the miracles, but Jesus would not commit himself to them.  The implication is that they were not saved at that time. In John 14: 42 we find the statement that many of the rulers believe in Jesus but they would not confess Him for fear of being cast out of the synagogue by the Pharisee.  Then of course we have James’ statement about the demons.  They believe that God is one; and they tremble but no one thinks they were saved.  (James 2: 19)

 

What is the received or implanted level?

 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name; who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  (John 1: 12, 13)

 Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  (James 1: 21)

 

What should we note about the received or implanted level?

 We should note the following:

·         The individual is said to have received Him by believing in His name.  At this level faith is no longer only mind thing but it is a product of both the mind an the heart,  for we read “for with the heart man believe resulting in righteousness.”  (Romans 10: 10)

·         The word is implanted in the heart.  We are begotten by God.  In natural conception the zygote becomes attached to the wall of the mother’s uterus.  In spiritual conception the word of God (the seed) is implanted in the heart of the individual.  The information that we had only received with our mind, is now received by our mind and heart.  Why?  Because it has taken on personal value to us .  No longer is Jesus just seen as the savior of the world, now He is MY savior, MY Lord!  This happens when faith is combined with love: the love that comes because He first loved us, the love that is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  (1 John 4: 19; Romans 5: 5)

·         The individual is given the right to become children of God.  Please note, and this is very important, the individual is not saved; he is given the right, authority and privilege of becoming a child of God.  This is contrary to much of the teaching of  Protestant Christianity.

·         We become a child of God by being born of God.  Jesus explained to Nicodemus that this means we are born of water and the Spirit

 

What is the perfected level of faith?

You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.  (James 2: 22)

 For in Christ Jesus neither circmcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.  (Galatians 5: 6)

 This is faith at its completed level.  This is the faith that avails and means something.  This is the faith that is now efficacious for cleansing, justification and ultimately salvation.  This is the faith working through love.  (Galatians 5: 6)  Perfected faith is saving faith; it is faith which works or obeys in love.  When we read of a faith that results in eternal life, we reading about a perfected faith.  (John 3: 16)  When we read about a faith that cleanses us from sin, we are reading about a perfected faith.  (Acts 10: 43)  When we read about a faith that saves, we are reading about a perfected faith.  (Ephesians 2: 8, 9)

 

THE LIMITATIONS OF FAITH

 Plain Talk doesn’t want any misunderstanding; it is impossible to be pleasing to God without faith, but the Bible reveals that faith has limitations.  This may be surprising if your faith is only based on what you hear at your church.  For this reason we ask you to check out these verses in your own Bible.

 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.               (1 Corinthians 13: 2)

 Love is the greatest quality we can have, and without it, we are lost.  We will present evidence for this statement later.  Please note that this statement is made by the Apostle Paul, the very one whom many suppose teaches salvation by faith alone. 

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.  (James 2: 17)

 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless.  (James 2: 20)

You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.  (James 2: 24)

 These are shocking statements to a large segment of those who profess to be Christians. Martin Luther was so shocked that he called the epistle of James “a right strawy epistle.”  Nevertheless, there it is; faith without works is useless and dead, as in no salvation!

 NOT OF WORKS

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

 

What is the solution?  There are two categories of work!!  We find the works of the law, the works of righteousness and works of which we may boast do not save.  (Romans 3: 28; Titus 3: 5)  On the other hand, the works of faith, obedience of faith and labor of love, do save in their own way.  (Romans 1: 5; 1 Thessalonians 1: 3)  A work of faith is distinguished from a work of righteousness by four factors:

·         proceeds from faith and the grace of God.

·         motivated by love.

·         not performed to claim righteousness based on merit.

 

A work of righteousness:

  

SALVATION IS BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH WHICH WORKS OR OBEYS   (REPENTANCE, CONFESSION OF THE NAME OF JESUS, BAPTISM) IN LOVE; NOT BY WORKS OF THE LAW OR WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNES.  (Ephesians 2: 8,9; Galatians 5: 6; Acts 2: 38)

 This is our thesis of salvation.  No, it does not contain every factor that saves; but it does provide a model of the interrelationship of  primary factors, about which the Christian community has debated for centuries.   Below, individual verification of each factor.

 GRACE:  Grace is the basis of our salvation, particularly the fact that by the grace of God Jesus tasted death for everyone

 

FAITH:  Without faith it is impossible to be pleasing to God.  Faith is the source of obedience.  Faith is our connection or channel to the grace of God

 

LOVE:  If we do not love we do not know God; if we not know God and do not obey the obey the gospel, we await eternal destruction.  (2 Thessalonians 1: 8)  We are saved by love because love motivates and energizes faith to obey God’s commandments.

 

OBEDIENCE:  We are saved by the obedience of faith or the works of faith

 

REPENTANCE

 

BAPTISM

 

WORKS OF FAITH

 

How do these factors save?

 These factors save in different ways.

 

God bless.

Arland Pafford,

 

Please contact us if we can be of assistance:

 

Plain Talk 

PO Box 1182

Oakdale, CA 95361

e-mail: arland_pafford@yahoo.com

Last Update   09/26/12